Location: Bridport, Dorset County, England
John Luter the elder family in Bridport Dorset England (June 15, 2020)
(Note: The Bridport, Dorset parish records are contained in Dorset Parish Registers, 1528 – 1936 , consisting of the original records (“OR”) and the later handwritten transcribed entries (“TR”) based on the ODPR. The originals of these records are located at Dorchester Records Office and History Centre. They consist of 1315 pages in total and can be accessed on line on Family Search.org and Ancestry.com.)
I have not found any verified birth records for John Luter Sr or his wife. There are a few earlier English records of births of John Lut(h)ers in other parts of England, but not in Dorset.
John Luter the elder (Sr.), married Johan Northover in Bridport, Dorset, England, on April 19, 1602. This marriage is recorded in the OR, at p. 116 and in the TR, at p. 9).
Their apparent children (all baptized in Bridport, Dorset and described in the OR or TR as children of John Luter) were:
1. John Luter (Jr.) their first child, was baptized on September 24, 1602 (p. 114, OR & p. 7,TR). If he was baptized a short time after his birth, he would have been born about five months after his parents’ wedding, ie he was conceived out of wedlock. John Luter Sr. was described in various documents (leases and church and town records) after the birth of his son John Jr. as John Luter the elder or the Old Luter, presumably to distinguish him from this son John. John Jr. is explicitly described as “John Jr.”, the father of Johane Luter, in a 1629 lease (the “1629 Lease”) of premises on South Street, Bridport from the Borough/Towne of Bridport to John the elder as tenant, for the benefit of his two children Johane and Suzanne and his grandchild Johane, daughter of John Jr. John Jr. is also explicitly described as “John Jr.”, the father of Susana Luter in her baptism record in 1632. Since John Jr. was a seaman, likely from a very young age, and thus not in town regularly, it is not surprising that he is not mentioned more often in the Bridport records.
2. Edmond Luter was baptized in March or April, 1605 (OR, p. 126, TR, p. 115). The exact date is unknown because the page headings go from February to May, with no stipulation of the months for entries between. He was stated to be son of John Luter the elder in a April 1, 1614 lease (the “1614 Lease”) from the Borough of Bridport arranged by his father for Edmond, his sister Amy and brother Emmett, under which John Luter the elder was tenant and paid the prepaid lease payment.
3. Johan Luter was probably baptized in 1604 (OR, p. 127, TR, p. 15, which contains the following notation: “John the daughter of --- was baptised the 16th day (This John is I suppose for Johan – the writing is very bad”). Johan Luter likely died as prior to 1615, because John Sr. had another daughter named Johanna in that year. The Johane, who was stated to be the daughter of John Luter the elder under the 1629 Lease arranged by her father for the benefit of her and other family members, was likely the later Johane.
4. Andrewe Luter was baptised 1607 (TR, p. 22, OR, p. 142).
5. Emmott Luter was baptized April 25, 1609 (OR, p. 147, TR, p. 25). She was stated to be the daughter of John Luter the elder (and described as “Emmot”) in the 1614 Lease from the Borough of Bridport, arranged by her father.
6. Anne Luter was baptized Aug. 15,1612 (TR, p. 30). She was probably known as Amy, the person named as the daughter of John the elder and an occupant under the 1614 Lease arranged by her father. She was married in Bridport to Christopher Loveridge in 1632.
7. Johan Luter was baptized October 1, 1615 or 1617. (Oct. 1, 1617 according to OR, p. 173). She was named as the daughter of John Luter the elder under the 1629 Lease arranged by her father for the benefit of her and other family members.
8. Susana Luter was baptized in April 1619 (OR, p. 187 (day of April illegible) & TR, p. 37 (day unnamed) ). She was named as daughter of John Luter the elder (and described as “Susanna”) as an occupant under the 1629 Lease arranged by her father for the benefit of her and other family members.
It appears that John Luter Sr. lived in Bridport from 1602 until his death in 1658. He is described as a husbandman in the 1614 Lease (see below), which generally means a small farmer.
In August of 2019, at the Dorset Records Office in Dorchester, I examined two original ancient leases on parchment entered into by John Luther Sr. from the Borough of Bridport, the 1614 Lease (Dorset History Centre document no. DC/BTB/S100) and the 1629 Lease (Dorset History Centre document no. DC/BTB/S138). The 1614 Lease arranged by John Luter Sr., was dated April1, 1614, “the ffirst daye of Aprill the years of the raigne of our Sovereigne Lord James”. The rent consisted of a prepayment of eight pounds, paid by John Sr. and annual rent of four shillings, payable quarterly on the religious feast days of “The Nativity of St. John the Baptist, St. Michael the archangell, the Birth of Our Lord God and the Annunciation of the blessed Virgin Mary”. The demised premises consisted of a burgage (town property) with a tofte or garden on the east side of South Street, in the document description said to be “No. 30, near the south end of street”. The exact location is uncertain from the lease, as it is only described as between the land of John Downe on the south side and the land of Peter Hoskyns on the north side. John Sr. put the lease in the names of first his son Edmond (10 years old) for his life, after his death to his daughter Amy (2 years old) for her life, and after her death to her sister Emmott (5 years old) for her life. Life leases were commonly put in the names of young children to extend the term, although it was the parents who actually fulfilled the obligations and derived the benefits of the lease, during the parents’ lifetimes.
Fifteen years later, under the 1629 Lease (made January 14, 1629 under the Julian calendar or January 14, 1630 under the Gregorian calendar), John Luter Sr. arranged a lease from the Borough of Bridport of another burgage, toft and garden. These premises were stated to be already in the occupation of John Sr. and immediately south of other land of John Luter Sr. (which may have been the land the subject of the 1614 Lease, if so also near the south end of South Street). This lease he entered into for his daughters Johane and Susanna and his granddaughter Johane, daughter of John Jr. This lease provided for prepaid rent of ten pounds, which John Sr. paid and annual rent of five shillings, paid quarterly on the foregoing religious feast days. It was for a term of 99 years from the feast day of St. John the Baptist in 1635.
The fact that John Sr. and his family held two leases from the Borough of Bridport meant that he had some money. The eight and ten pound rent prepayments under the 1614 Lease and the 1629 Lease are equivalent to about $2,526 and $2,789 USD in today’s currency. But he was apparently not a man of significant means, judging from the modest amount of rates he paid to the local church, one shilling in 1642 & 1643.
On June 20, 1626 he paid a fine of 10 shillings to the Borough of Bridport as a fine for his unnamed son (presumably one of Captain John (then married), Edmond or Andrewe) being accused of responsibility for a base (bastard) child of Mr. Maneford's daughter.
John Luter the elder’s wife Joanna Luter was buried March 1, 1645 in Bridport (OR, p. 374, described as “Joane the wife of John Luter” ).
John Luter the elder was buried on October 4, 1658 in Bridport (OR, p. 497 described as “John Lutter the Elder).