- Facts relating to John Besbeech and his family were transcribed by Mrs. Elizabeth (French) Bartlett and published as "English Research" in the New England Historical and General (sic) Register during 1912 and 1913.
John Besbeech, the father of Thomas, lived in Biddenden. Anything definite concerning his connection with the old Kentish of Byxpitch or Besbeche is not known. The numberous refernces to this family in the different records spell the name variously, as, Byxpitch, Besbeche, Besbridge, Besbeech, Besbyche and other variations.
As a termination in the names of places, "Den" in old English meant "In a Valley" or "Near a Wood."
John's wife, Dorothy, was the sister of Walter Austin of Bethersden in Kent, and was the widow of Thomas Foster. She had several children by her first marriage, among them Richard Foster, who married Patience Bigge, the daughter of John and Rachael (Martin) Bigge of Tenderden.
John Bigge was a clothier of Cranbrook, Kent, and married in 1538. When he died in 1605, he left an estate of 700 pounds, Sterling. In 1635, after her husband's death, Patience (Bigge) Foster emigrated with her mother, Rachael, on the ship, "Elizabeth," to Dorchester, Mass.
In his will, John Besbeech called himself a "Yoeman." The people of Kent were largely small landholders and had been so from the time of the Danish Conquests.
From the Arch Deaconry, Canterbury, the records (Vol. 51-66), some pertaining to the will of John Besbeech made in 1608-1609 and probated March 8th, 1609-1610, were transcribed by Elizabeth (French) Bartlett and are as follows:
"Will of John Besbeech of Biddenden in the County of Kent, Yeoman, June 28th, 7 James. To be buried in the Parish Churchyard of Biddenden.
"To my wife, Dorothy, a cow, half my corn, all my leases and a bedstead which standeth in the house where Richard Foster, her son, now dwelleth.
"To Richard Foster and Patience, his wife, Thomas Foster and Elizabeth, his wife and Thomas Stocke and his wife, to each a gold ring, of vallue 10 s.
"To young John Beale, my Godchild, 20 s.
"The residue of my goods and chattels, unbequeathed, to my two sons, John Besbich and Thomas Besbeech, and them I make my executors.
"My Will Regarding My Lands.
"To my wife, Dorothy, for her dowry, 20 pounds a year out of my lands, but if she marry again, only 14 pounds.
"To my son John Besbich and his heirs, a messuage and lands in Hedcorne and Biddenden, which I lately purchased of Simon Chittenden in Biddenden at a place called Omenden, my wife to have out of said lands, 12 pounds, but only 9 pounds if she should marry again.
"To my son Thomas Besbich, and his heirs, a messuage and lands which I lately purchased of Robert Tayler of Holden, lying in Frittenden and Hedcorne and my messuage purchased of Anne White in Frittenden on the Den of Buckhurst. My wife to have 8 pounds out of said lands, but only 5 pounds if she marry again."
(signed) JOHN BESBICH
Harry Payne, Scriptor
Proved 8 March 1609-10 by John Besbeech, one of the executors, with power reserved for the executor. (Arch Deaconry, Canterbury, Vol. 58, Folio 216).
In "Churches of Kent" by Francis Grayling, 1913, there is a description of All Saints Church in Biddenden which is as follows:
"The tower an elegant specimen of the Kent type. Plan regular and the chancel longer than the aisles. The pillars and arches are of the 13th Century; the eastern nave arches have been tampered with; 14th Century windows. The chancel pillars and arches are of the 15th Century. Has a tower dated 1541 and a monument to Sir Thomas Mayne, 1566; the pulpit is of the 17th Century; registers began in 1538."
Saint Peter and Saint Paul Church in Hedson Hedcorn:
"Has a western tower; nave and chancel, each with a south aisle; the whole is of the 15th Century. The tower windows affect an earlier form. Has five bays in the nave; the northern window traceries retain fine old painted glass. The base of the screen remains; the font is with shields, angels and scrolls. Has a 15th Century tomb; registers began in 1560."
Saint Marys Church of Frittenden:
"Was rebuilt in 1848. R. E. Hussey has described the moulded brickwork. The tower is of the 15th Century. Baptism records date from 1558, marriages and burials from 1561."
Committee on English Research searched the Canterbury Arch Deaconry records Vols. 56 to 61 and the results same given in the New England Historical and General (sic) Register, transcribed by Elizabeth (Barrett) French and are as follows:
"Will of Dorothy Bestbeech of Biddenden, County Kent, widow, dated 27 Dec. 1619.
"To Thomas Foster's three children a pair of sheets each;
"To Phillipe dau. of my son John Besbeech, a pair of sheets;
"To the daughter of son Richard Foster a bedstead and a cupboard;
"To John, son of my son John Besbeech, six napkins and a silver spoon, now in his father's hands;
"To Mary Rowlett, my son Thomas Besbeech's servant maid, a gown now in my son Thomas' house.
"To Margery Winter, my son John Besbeech's maid servant, a gown;
"To John, son of my son John Beale, six pounds, part of such money as his father oweth me;
"To my son John Besbeech, all such money as is due from him to me out of the yearly rent, he is to pay me at my decease.
"To my son Thomas Besbeech, all such household stuff of mine as he hath in his keeping, except my linen and all such rent as shall be due from him to me, except three pounds which he shall pay to my son Richar Foster.
"Residue of all my moveable goods and chattels, unbequeathed, to my son Richard Foster, whom I make my executor."
(Signed X Mark of Dorothy Bestbeech)
Proved 4 Jan. 1619-20 By Executor named.
According to Records of the Arch Deaconry of Canterburym Vol. 61, Folio 51, John Stow was an emigrant to New England.
Entries in Parish Registers and Transcripts
Biddenden, County Kent, England, 1539-1636
1551 William Bestbydge and Maryane Cook married (14 May)
1551 Susane dau. of _____ Bestbyche, christened (5 March)
1554 Thomas, son of Wyllyam Bestbyche, christened (11 March)
1562 Roger, son of William Bestbyche, buried (17 July)
1563 Thomas Whyte and Dorothy Bestbyche, married (14 June)
1564 Agnis, dau. of William Bestbyche, christened (28 Sept.)
1566-67 William, son of William Bestbeche, christened (23 Feb.)
1575 Abell Baseborn, dau. of Richard Bestbeche, christened (8 May)
1586 John Besbeche and Dorothy Foster, widowe, married (31 Oct.)
1587 John Besbeche, son of John, christened (8 Oct.)
1589-90 Thomas Besbeche, christened (3 March)
1592 Sarah, dau. of John Besbeche, christened (13 Aug.)
1609-10 John Besbych, householder, buried (26 Feb.)
1615 John Bestbeech and Elizabeth Taylor, married (27 Nov.)
1616-17 Phillipe, dau of John Bestbetch, christened (23 March)
1618-19 Thomas Besbich and Anne Baseden, married (14 Jan.)
1619-20 Dorathye Besbich, widowe, buried (1 Jan.)
1620-21 Mary, dau. of John Besbich, christened (18 March)
1622 Edward Besbich, an old man, buried (20 Sept.)
1623-24 James, son of John Besbiche, christened (6 Jan.)
1625-26 Susannah, dau. of John Bespitch, christened (5 Feb.)
1628 Elizabeth, dau. of John Besbich, christened (30 Nov.)
1630 Elizabeth, dau. John Besbich, christened (22 Aug.)
Records from Parish Registers, Frittenden, 1561 to 1638
1611 Mary Bezbeech, married Nicholas Payne (9July)
1621-22 Sara, dau. of Thomas Besbeech, christened (6 Jan.)
1624 Alice, dau. of Thomas Bestbeech, christened (29 June)
1634 Anne, wife of Thomas Bestbeech, buried (21 April)