RESOLVED: Who was the wife of John Spencer?

+10 votes
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UPDATE: 31 May 2019: Further research has revealed that there were TWO John Spencers-- one of Edworth and one of London. John Spencer of Edworth married Anne Merrill; John Spencer of London married Anne Clark. See answer below from Robert Spencer

UPDATE 31 Mar 2016: I just happened to revisit this profile. Since the original post above and subsequent responses (thank you Becky for your heroic efforts!), the profile has been edited with a lot of text but very little sourcing. I wish the editor(s) had discussed the issue here. Now the narrative is quite a mess with uncited claims made about origins, wives and lineages but it's poorly organized and very difficult to follow. The profile is project protected but it's not clear what project should guide next steps. I'm guessing my involvement three years ago came about due to the PGM project as descendants of this couple emigrated during that time. But this profile is beyond the scope of PGM. In any case, some much needed love and care is needed here. I hope someone can help. Thanks! - Jillaine

UPDATE: It appears that there is sufficient evidence that John Spencer had two wives, both named Ann(e). The first was Anne Clarke of London, according to the Visitations of Bedfordshire; the case for a second, Anne Merrill, is made by examination of her will which identifies brothers by the name of Merrill. What I'm not wholly happy with, however, is the documentation that Ann Clarke was the mother of the daughters, and Anne Merrill was the mother of the sons. That evidence is not so strong, but is what we're going with for now. -- Jillaine

There is currently dispute about the identity of the wife of John Spencer-753. 

  1. Evidence that she was Ann(e) Merrill-391 is from her own will, cited in Jacobus, The American Genealogist 27(1950)79-87: dated 13 Jun 1560 proved 21 Apr 1561,  includes a bequest to "brother Edward's children; Nicholas Merryll and John Merryll his brother to have the barley their father gave her sons... From the terms of the will, it would seem that Anne's brother was Edward Merryll or Merrill and that this was her maiden name. A search of Merrill wills might confirm this conjecture."
  2. Evidence that she was Ann(e) Clark-14592 is from a printed family tree, with the caption "Compiled from Church Records of Ebworth and Stotfold, Wills, Chancery Calendar, Conveyances, Hartford Church Records, etc." Neither the source or the date of this tree is provided on its image page. There is a reference to a 1901-1905 publication, John Melvin of Charlestown and Concord Mass.., which does have a chapter/section on the Spencers (starting on p 353), but it starts with the New England Spencers; nothing is included about their English ancestry. And this reader could not find a printed chart.

In his 1950 TAG article, Jacobus makes reference to "the parish registers of Stotfold and Edworth have been included by F.G. Emmison in his Bedfordshire Parish Register Series," but I have yet to find a digital version of this.

If someone has it, or has access to the UK version of Ancestry.com (which might have it), please see what if anything it says about the wife of John Spencer. 

WikiTree profile: John Spencer
in Policy and Style by Jillaine Smith G2G6 Pilot (757k points)
edited by Jillaine Smith

Hi Jillaine,

When talking about Bedfordshire I take it you mean the one in England?

If so then you are in luck as Bedfordshire is the first English county for which all the pre-1812 parish registers have been transcribed, indexed and published. All the volumes in the series are now available from us either in hard copy or on microfiche - for details see the accompanying list.

The council also does international shipping as well, the price for the two books you are looking for is £16-00 UK + P&P. The url you need is:

http://www.bedfordshire.gov.uk/CommunityAndLiving/ArchivesAndRecordOffice/FamilyHistory/BedfordshireParishRegisterSeries.aspx

If you need anything else just mesage me

Update:

Thanks to Catherine Evans, I re-examined the 1901-1905 Leavitt book. If you go back two pages from the beginning of the Spencer chapter, you'll find the printed tree between two title pages for the chapter, unpaginated, but probably page 351:

https://archive.org/stream/palmergroupsjoh00leavgoog#page/n367/mode/2up

Unfortunately, the rest of her chapter on the Spencers does not discuss their English origins at all, but only the New England information.

Jacobus in his 1950 article in The American Genealogist, does not discuss Leavitt's publication. Here's what he does say:

"In 1903, the Rev. John Holding, MA, then Vicar of Stotfold, co. Bedford, England, published The Spencers of Bedfordshire. … tracing it back to one Thomas Spencer who was living at Eton in 1433.

"Some years earlier the noted antiquary, Henry F. Waters, had found mention of the four brothers in the will of their London uncle Richard Spencer, and had published this in the NEHGR and in 1901 included it in his Genealogical Gleanings in England

"In recent years the parish registers of Stotfold and Edworth have been included by FG Emmison in his Bedfordshire Parish Register Series. Careful comparison has been made between these and the entries as printed by the Rev. Mr. Holding, resulting in some corrections and in the addition of two or three important entries.

And elsewhere in his 1950 article, he makes no mention of a) two wives of John Spencer, or b) the possibility of Ann Clark as the spouse of John Spencer. He only conjectures the possibility of Anne Merrill from the language in her will.

Thoughts?

I really wish we could make some progress on this. Current theories:

1. He was married to either Ann Clark OR Ann(e) Merrill

2. He was married first to Ann Clark THEN to Ann(e) Merrill

Where can we find more authoritative evidence on these? I really want to understand the thinking behind the Ann Clark as spouse theory. Where did that name come from, other than a tree printed in a 1905 book?

Catherine has suggested:

in reference to the Spencer/Merrill profiles, rather than using latter day publications, it might, perhaps be more productive to turn to Burke's Peerage and follow the Spencer lines throughout. The family is well documented, the main and collateral branches leading in time to the Dukes of Marlborough, Winston Churchill and the late, much-loved Princess Di. Winston is a descendant of the Henry Spencer whose profile is in the ancestral lines of the John Spencer in debate.

Could someone with access to this resource please take a look and see what, if anything, it says about the wife of John Spencer-753? Thanks.

 

Jillaine Wrote:

I really wish we could make some progress on this. Current theories:

1. He was married to either Ann Clark OR Ann(e) Merrill

2. He was married first to Ann Clark THEN to Ann(e) Merrill

or is it possible that ...

 3. John Spencer married the widow Ann Clark whose maiden name was Merrill?

 

Michael, that is definitely another possible theory. Thanks for suggesting it.

Right now, other than an unsourced entry on a family tree graphic in a 1905 published genealogy, and an unfindable page in one of the many editions of Burke's Landed Gentry series, there is NO evidence for the Ann Clark name.  It's clearly got to be somewhere; I just wish we could find it!

I looked at the page of images associated with this profile. On the bottom of the first page of images, then the top of the second page of images, are scans of pp 195-196 of the Visitations of Bedfordshire, published in 1884. These images include another pedigree-- and probably source of the 1905 genealogy family tree-- that shows John Spencer married to "Anne, d. of ...... Clarke of London." 

I don't know the quality of these Visitation books. Can anyone speak to that? But this clearly seems to be the source for Anne Clarke.  IF that Visitation source is accurate, AND the will of widow Ann Spencer does translate to widow Ann being born a Merrill, then THAT would support the theory that he had two different wives by the name of Ann(e).

A THIRD source claims that the first Ann was mother of the daughters; and that the second Ann was mother of the sons. Would be nice to know what that's based on...

 

John Spencer only married once.  He and Anne Merrill were married in 1528, John died in 1558.  They had four sons, I'm not sure about any daughters. Michael, 1536; Gerard, 1543; William, 1545; and John, 1555.  Anne's name has been posted as Merrill, Gerrard and even Clarke but there is definite proof that it was Merrill.There is no mention of a daughter in her will, which I have posted on my Ancestry tree.  She mentions only her four sons, some of their children, and a few of the Merrills.

There may have been a John who married an Anne Clarke, but that may have been a different John altogether.  There were a lot of "Johns" in the Spencer lineage.
Sandra, thanks for this information. Could you please cite the source of this information? Thanks.

4 Answers

+3 votes
 
Best answer
This issue has been resolved by David Cooper : The will of John Merrell , a brother of Ann Merrill confirms she was the wife of John Spencer of Edworth who was buried in 1558. Anns brother Edward (Morrell - Merrell  was of Stratton, Biggleswade. John Merrel's will talks about the same Barley that Ann mentions in her on Will.

The John Spencer who married Ann Clark is proven by his fathers will and was still having children in London, after John Spencer of Edworth died. The visitation of Herts. and records relating to Bramfield manor also prove the same. The children of John Spencer and Ann Clarke are all recorded in the church records by his son in law who personally entered each name. It is this John Spencer who was the son of John Spencer and Christine Baker, so this is settled.

This is why John Spencer of Edworth has had his parents removed from his profile. His parents are yet unknown.

Robert Spencer
by Robert Spencer G2G1 (1.2k points)
selected by Jillaine Smith
Thanks, Robert. I've requested that the England project protect the profile due to the past conflation of the two John Spencers, the confusion about his/their wife/wives, and the lack of definitive origins for one of them.
It was only three days ago that PPP was removed on this profile!
Wow, good work people!  Way to sort it out, gives me hope on disentangling two other messes, again congrats!
Anne merrill is part of the family tree I am working on.  Since brothers listed in wills are sometimes actually brother-in-laws, I am now looking at Edward as a brother-in-law.  Edward Merrill Sr. m. Katherine Gerard dau. of Sir Thomas Gerard.  This will account for the name Gerard being used as a Christian name for her son and grandchildren.  A name with such prestige.  Also in Anne’s brother-in-law’s will (John Spencer of Pavenham d. 1532) he has Sir Giles Strangeways has one of his enfeoffes.  Sir Thomas Gerard  was son of Peter Gerard  and Isabel Strangeways.  This would make Isabel grandmother to Katherine and a connection to the Gerard family.  Using Anne Gerard dau of Michael Gerard doesn’t fit for me for then her name would be Anne Gerard not Anne Merrill.
+1 vote
I looked first at Thomas Stanley in our family tree charts, then realized my error. Sorry.

I checked Ancestry.UK and didn't see anything for this Spencer.

Checked the TAG Volume and again found no relevant information.
by Becky Syphers G2G6 Mach 3 (35.6k points)
reshown by Jillaine Smith
Becky,

Thanks.

Could you see if you can find the Stotfold, Bedfordshire parish records on Ancestry.com? I see that there are Bedfordshire parish records, but I only have the US subscription, not the international.

I *so* wish we could get our hands on Emmison's work. That Ann Clark information had to come from somewhere!
Becky, could you also look to see what's in here:

http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=7775
I did a search for John Spencer on Ancestry.UK, but did not find either marriage. There was a John Spencer listed in the 1634 Bedford Bishops Transcripts, but only his name was listed, no parents, marriages or children.

I double checked for the TAG article. There were Spencers in the article, but they were apparently from the 19th century.

Barbour's Early Families of Hartford lists a family for a John Spencer, but I was unable to find a marriage that matched.
Becky, thanks so much.

The Burke's Peerage is also on the UK version of ancestry. Did you try that? Sorry to bug you so much with this. We've got at least two people on the Trusted List who insist that the 1905 published tree (which includes Ann Clark as spouse)  is accurate.

There MUST be something somewhere that was the source for Ann Clark being added to this tree. Just trying to track it down. The marriage would have been about 1525-1535.
It's not searchable?

(I don't have access to either ancestry.uk or the world membership on ancestry.com)

Thanks.
The usual search options did not appear for me. Maybe there is an index. Maybe I just don't know how to use ancestry.com any more.

I did find a family tree for John Spencer. NO CITATIONS!  His father seems to have lived in a different town.

"Generation No. 1.
1. JOHN**(-4) 1 SPENCER was born 1477 in OF, EDWORTH, BEDFORDSHIRE, ENGLAND. He married ANN GERRARD  ...

"Children of JOHN**(-4) SPENCER and ANN GERRARD are: .
2. i. JOHN**(-3)2 SPENCER, b. 1505, EDWORTH, BEDF, ENGL; d. June 09, 1558, PAVENHAM, BEDF, ENGLAND..." From Ancestry.UK Family Trees.

Have more.  Let me know if you want other children. etc.

Have a very busy personal schedule today, More later.
Thanks, Becky. Let's see if we can find another World subscriber or ancestry.uk subscriber who can work on this further. Where's Martin Allen when you need him?
+1 vote

In attempting to clean up more merges related to this line, his father's entry has the following

:Burke's Landed Gentry, 4th Ed 1862 6. John Spencer Jr. Esq. b. abt. 1505 d. 1559 , of Blunham prior to 1525, of Kempston Beds. in 1525 , later of Edworth, Beds. Court case dated 1525,shows John Sr. and John Jr. as plaintiffs against 3 Gentleman of Beds. and Northants, for monies owed them-, married 2 times = 1. Ann Clark of London , had 4 children , but all girls. No male issue!! married 2nd =Ann Merrill , b. abt. 1509, of Bedfordshire, dau. of John Merrill and had issue
 
But the provided link to Google books does not take us to information about this Spencer family. Please help us find the original information. 
by Jillaine Smith G2G6 Pilot (757k points)
+1 vote
I just happened to revisit this profile. Since the original post above and subsequent responses (thank you Becky for your heroic efforts!), the profile has been edited with a lot of text but very little sourcing.

I wish the editor(s) had discussed the issue here. Now the narrative is quite a mess with uncited claims made about origins, wives and lineages but it's poorly organized and very difficult to follow. It almost begs a freespace page that lays out the problem and possible solutions.

The profile is project protected but it's not clear what project should guide next steps. I'm guessing my involvement three years ago came about due to the PGM project as descendants of this couple emigrated during that time. But this profile is beyond the scope of PGM.

In any case, some much needed love and care is needed here. I hope someone can help.

Thanks!
by Jillaine Smith G2G6 Pilot (757k points)

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