Detach William Mede (Mede-7) and Thomas Meade (Meade-129) from parents Thomas and Margaret?

+4 votes

Thomas Mede and his brother William are the ancestors of the Meade family of Clavering, Elmdon, and elsewhere in northwestern Essex. They occur in records in Clavering in the 1480s and 1490s. In his will (PCC 1504) Thomas Mede of Clavering makes his brother William one of his executors:

And of this his present testament and last will he mak and ordene the foresaid Johanne his wife his executrice and executours of the same he made and ordeyn his brother William Mede and John Cokyswith.

Several people have connected Thomas Mede with Thomas Mede in Bristol. For example:

Article by John Mead, 1977

George Master, p. 63

However, this connection is based on heraldry and heralds’ visitations, which are often unreliable.

I have found evidence in Common Pleas rolls that there were Medes in Clavering before Thomas and William:

John Mede, of Claveryng, Essex, husbandman, found in Common Pleas 1435-36

Richard Mede, of Claveryng, Essex, husbandman, Common Pleas 1435-36

John Mede, of Claveryng, Essex, yeoman, Common Pleas 1485-6

Details of these cases here:

For this reason I am suggesting that William Mede and Thomas Meade be detached from the Medes in Bristol.

WikiTree profile: Thomas Meade
in Genealogy Help by Vance Mead G2G1 (1.1k points)
retagged by Maggie N.
This may be ground zero for this descent from Meade in Bristol to Meade in Essex: the Visitation of Cambridgeshire, pages 69 and 70:

As you can see, it's not very helpful, with Thomas Meade of Somerset at the top followed by a lot of hand waving.

What I suspect happened is this. In the 15th century they were husbandmen and yeomen, some of them reasonably prosperous. In the 16th century some of them got their hands on monastic land following the Dissolution.

By the end of the 16th century, many of them were calling themselves gentlemen, so they required a coat of arms and a more exalted pedigree...

2 Answers

+1 vote
PLEASE DO NOT DETACH THE FATHERS IN THE FAMILY TREE OF MEADE-655 OR MEDE-7 OR MEADE-129. These names are crucial in the Meads family tree, as they show the ancestors of the famous Sir Philip Mede and the Sheriff (Sir) Thomas Mede III of Bristol, because Thomas Atte Meade was born in 1350, and his son was Thomas Meade Jr. (Meade-655), born 1380, and his son was Sir Thomas Meade III, born in 1410. His son was William Mede (Mede-7), who was born in Bristol in 1440, and he moved to Clavering later in life, and his son was Richard Meade, William Mede's brother was Thomas Meade IV (Mede-129), who was born in Bristol and later moved to Clavering. His son was Thomas Meade V, who was born in Bristol in 1489 but moved to Essex later in life. There may have been other Medes in Clavering, but these two names are crucial in the records of the family of Medes from Bristol, from the 12th century to 1489 and beyond. IF you tried to detach these from their father and mother, that would make Thomas Mede V born in 1489, and his father would be Sir Thomas Mede III, born in 1410, and this is not true! PLEASE DO NOT DETACH THESE NAMES FROM THEIR FATHER AND MOTHER. They were born in Bristol, and these families moved later during their life. When Isabel Mede married Lord Maurice Berkeley, and he needed her relatives' help in the Battle of Nibley Green, between the Berkeleys and the Lisles, both William Mede and Thomas Mede IV (who are confirmed as having been born in Bristol as the sons of Thomas Mede III) went up to Essex to gather soldiers to fight the battle. After they won, William and Thomas were awarded homes there, so they moved to Clavering in 1470, and became residents, and they remained until their death in 1504. There is no reason to detach them from their fathers, because even though they died in 1504, they were born in Bristol, and moved to 1470 after Isabel Mede married Lord Berkeley. There are records of the sources in Wikipedia, for Maurice Berkeley, regarding the entire story of the Berkeleys, and why William and Thomas moved up there, got married, and continued the Meade family tree.
by Charles Meads G2G Crew (770 points)
edited ago by Charles Meads

You need to provide more evidence than simply claiming it's true. What contemporary evidence do you have that the Thomas and William of Clavering were born in Bristol or in Wedmore, Soms?

What it would mean is that Thomas Mead IV (Meade-129), was born in about 1440-1450, parents unknown, probably in Clavering. Not in Wedmore. There are no parish records for Wedmore at that time and no surviving wills. 

Thomas Meade (or Mede) in his will (PCC 1504), mentioned four sons: Robert, Thomas, Richard and John (John was probably under 21). They would have born about 1470 to 1490, but exact dates are impossible without parish records.
His will:
There are records of Thomas and William Mede in the Clavering manorial court rolls in the 1480s and 1490s, so Thomas's children were probably also born there. Not in Wedmore. Not in Bristol.

Also, they weren't Sir Philip and Sir Thomas. They weren't knights.

This is an attempt to sort out the four children of Thomas Mede (PCC 1504). This is from wills, lay subsidies and Common Pleas. 

Robert was in Clavering in 1507, after that I'm not sure.
Thomas was in Clavering, at least until the 1520s. His son son, Thomas, had property in Elmdon.
Richard was in Clavering until the 1520s.
John was in Great Easton. 

Robert Mede
(Common Pleas) 1507 Michaelmas Essex. Robert Mede, of Claveryng, yeoman

After this, uncertain. There are several Robert Medes who it might be.

Thomas Mede
(Lay Subsidy 1524/5) Thomas Meede, of Clavering, land worth 6 pounds

(1526 lay subsidy 108/175) Thomas Mede, Clavering 10s

Thomas, son of Thomas
(1526 lay subsidy 108/175) Thomas Mede, Elmdon, 11 s
Will of Thomas Meade of Stapleford, Cambs, and Elmdon, Essex, 1557 (PCC) He was "of Stapleford" but had land in Elmdon. 

Richard Mede

(1524 lay subsidy 108/155) Richard Meede, Clavering, in moveables 3 lb pays 18 d

1526 lay subsidy 108/175) Richard Mede, Clavering, 15 s
Possibly the will of Richard Mede, 1535, of Manuden, about 2 miles from Clavering

John Mede

(Common Pleas) 1505-1556 John Mede of Great Easton, husbandman and yeoman
(Lay Subsidy 1524/5) John Mede, Great Easton, in goods 20 pounds
Will of John Meade of Great Easton, 1565. (I estimate he was born about 1485, so he lived to the age of 80, quite old for that time.)

+2 votes

I have looked at the source information Vance Mead has so helpfully provided. I agree with Vance that it would be good to see better source information to back up the current relationships shown on Wikitree. By Wikitree standards, the profiles of both William and Thomas are effectively unsourced. So if Charles Meads can provide more source information, that would be extremely helpful.

I also agree with Vance that we should never assume that long-held beliefs about lines of descent are necessarily right: we should always be open to new information. Even for people of much higher social status, long-held views of genealogists and historians about relationships can be overturned. That may be upsetting, and extremely inconvenient, but it does happen. End of mini-sermon.

Turning back to William and Thomas, the way I see things is this:

1. The 1619 Cambridgeshire Visitation shows a Thomas Mede moving from Somerset to Essex. Visitations are not always reliable. I find it difficult to reconcile the family relationships shown in the Visitations with what is on Wikitree. Heraldic evidence suggests the heralds were persuaded (I choose words carefully) there was a connection between Medes of the Clavering area and  the Medes of Bristol and Somerset.

2. Isabel Meade married Maurice, Lord Berkeley in about 1465. She was daughter of Philip Meade of Wraxall, Somerset, a Bristol and London merchant and a Mayor of Bristol, who is described by Cokayne as of Wraxall, Somerset. There were all sorts of complications over lands, but Lord Berkeley held properties in various parts of England, including in Huntingdonshire, and at Great Chesterford, Essex if John Mead's 1977 article is right (and a very quick web search reveals other evidence for Great Chesterford being held by the Berkeleys around this time). Isabel is shown on Wikitree as cousin of the Thomas and William of this thread. John Mead used this marriage to support a connection between other Medes of Somerset and Essex, suggesting that the Berkeleys facilitated a move of some Medes to Essex. Other evidence aside, I do not find that an improbable scenario. But John Mead gives no sources, so it would seem to be slightly speculative.

3. About 50 years before the time of Thomas and William in the Clavering area, there are records of Medes there, but as far as I can see there is nothing to indicate their family relationships, which isn't surprising. (If I have missed something in Vance's information, I apologise.) This raises questions about the parentage shown on Wikitree, though I know from my one experience with some of my Ford(e) ancestors of Staffordshire, and from other research involving some surnames a bit rarer than Ford or Mede/Meade/Mead, that, even in rural areas, it can be dangerous to assume that people with the same surname living in the same area in the same century were necessarily of the same family.

To me as an I-hope-dispassionate outsider, none of this is conclusive one way or the other. It may be that the records just aren't there to say anything conclusive. But I don't think detaching people from parents is to be done lightly, and I would suggest that, unless further evidence emerges, the right course at this stage may be to retain the current parentage for Thomas and William, mark it as uncertain, and add some research notes. There is also scope for improving the profiles in other ways, adding sourced information, drawing on Vance's research. Of course if firmer evidence emerges, we should think again.

As I said, it would be good if Charles Meads could contribute any sourced information he has.

Although this is not a family I have researched, I would be willing to work with Charles Meads and Vance Mead on trying to improve the profiles of Thomas and William if they wish, using information they have. We could do this outside G2G. ... And I am sure there will be things to do on Thomas's children.

by Michael Cayley G2G6 Mach 3 (30.6k points)
edited by Michael Cayley

I have also spent a little time looking into this.  I can find no evidence whatsoever that Thomas Meade of Clavering, Essex was a son of Thomas Mede, Sheriff of Bristol.  Nor do I think it exists anywhere.  It appears to be one of those guesses that turns into fact on the internet.  As John Meade's 1977 article says "Thomas Mede, presumed to be the son of Thomas Mede of Bristol...".  But presumed for what reason?  There is nothing to directly connect the two families other than a similarity in heraldry.  There is no evidence that Thomas of Bristol even had a son named Thomas.

Since Vance has shown there already was a Mede family in Clavering prior to the records of Thomas and his brother William, it is more likely that they were from the Clavering family than from the Somerset family.  I would be in favor of breaking the line with an appropriate discussion, as Vance suggests.

I would not resist that hard, Joe. That's why I put my proposal tentatively. I think we are agreed that, whatever we do, we need a research note.

And too many of the profiles in this family are effectively unsourced. So there is plenty of scope for someone to improve them.

Does Charles Meads have any other evidence to contribute to the discussion?
I am encouraged by the discussion here. I have been sceptical about the value of Wikitree - good idea, bad execution - but I am open to new evidence.

As you can probably see, I am a newcomer to Wikitree, but I have been doing research for 25 years. I would be amenable to having a research note detailing the problems with this particular connection (I am a non-pre-1500 pleb so I'm not allowed). In the last week I have helped to detach two other fictions.

I have collected a great deal of information about the Mead families over the last 25 years (as well as indexing Common Pleas records) and would be glad to help in cleaning the Augean Stables.
I think, Vance, we should wait another day or two before doing anything, to give Charles a bit more time to respond with any evidence he has. Subject to that, I would be inclined to move on all this. I am pre-1500 certified so can do what is needed, but would like to work in conjunction with you, I will message you with how we might take this forward.

I am English and you may detect a bit of British understatement in the way I phrase things. :-)
Liz Shifflett and C Mackinnon have also been very helpful in editing some of the related profiles, such as Philip Mede's wife Isabel Ricard and Thomas' son John (died 1496).

I'm only half American - my mother was born in Scotland and was at school in England. But there was never any understatement in the way she phrased things!
Ah, but I am an effete wimpish southern Englishman :-D Though with Scottish clan blood in my veins.

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