The Kendalls held the manor at Smisby for just over 150 years which spanned nine generations. However, the Kendall’s history while in the possession of the manor is not readily available and inaccuracies in written pedigrees and the passage of time have clouded their story.
The main sources are the pedigrees provided by the visitations of the Heralds as well as those sources which have elaborated on these, such as Nichols and HJB Kendall. Although it is better not to make assumptions and rely only on primary sources of information, in some cases there is a need to apply some reasoning to make sense of the available information. This article is a summary account which addresses the main personalities and some historical anomalies.
Bartholomew Kendall of Twycross1
Bartholomew was the son and heir of John Kendall of Twycross and John’s unidentified wife who he married in 26 Hen. VI (1448/1449)2.
Bartholomew Kendall was the first Kendall to have possession of the manor at Smisby through his marriage to Margaret, the daughter of John Shepey of Sheepy. Margaret’s brother Edmund died on 10th June 1509 and as his only sibling, the manor at Smisby and other substantial lands passed to her following his inquest post mortum. The Shepey’s ancestry included the families of Burdett, de Qunicy and Comyn. This includes Alexander Comyn, the 2nd Earl of Buchan, Saer de Quincy, the 1st Earl of Winchester who was one of the leaders of the baron’s rebellion against King John, and Robert de Beaumont, the 1st Earl of Leicester, who commanded the infantry on the Norman right wing at the battle of Hastings, was with the hunting party when William II was killed by an arrow and was a trusted adviser to Henry I.
There are several records relating to Bartholomew and Margaret which provide evidence of where they appear in the history of the Kendalls. e.g. In May 1501 Bartholomew was taken to court for the sum of 100 marks owed to Thomas Twysaday, a sergeant at arms, and Reginald Pegy, gentleman3. Although retaining substantial lands in the area, on 18th November 1501 Bartholomew sold the Manor at Twycross to William Reynolds for 200 marks. Margaret was recorded as his wife at that time of this sale4. Despite the recorded sale of Twycross Manor, the church of St James the Greater in Twycross was used by the Kendall’s for baptisms during their possession of the manor at Smisby. The titles, manor and lands around Twycross were subject to prolonged legal challenges in the 17th century and court papers demonstrate that the Kendalls retained manorial possessions and titles in the area.
There are no church records to confirm vital dates, such as baptisms, marriage and burials, for either Bartholomew or Margaret. The post-mortem for Edmund Shepey states that Margaret was 60 years old in 1510.
Bartholomew and Margaret had two sons and two unnamed daughters:
- William (of whom next).
- John, who married Margaret, a daughter and coheir of Henry Alstre of Austrey.
William Kendall I of Smisby
William was the eldest son and heir of Bartholomew Kendall of Twycross. He married Elizabeth, one of the coheirs of Henry Alstre of Austrey. Elizabeth had two sisters; Margaret, who was married to William’s younger brother John and Agnes, who was married to William Banwell. Following the death of Henry Alstre a tripartite agreement was put in place in the year 1496 by the three husbands and his coheirs regarding the division of the estate5.
From the agreement William gained the manor at Snibstone and lands in Ravenstone, Leicestershire. The Alstre’s Ancestry includes the family of Halford.
Elizabeth Kendall, daughter of William, married Humphry Feilding the son of Sir Everard Feilding of Lutterworth and Newnham Paddox6. The Feildings were to become the Earls of Denbigh and Desmond and were said to be descended from the Hapsburgs. Sir Everard’s Grandfather, John, had been knighted during the wars with France and his father, Sir William, was the Sheriff for the counties of Cambridge and Huntingdon. A staunch supported of the House of Lancaster, Sir William was killed at the battle of Tewkesbury in 1471. Sir Everard was himself the sheriff of the counties of Warwick and Leicestershire and was a commander for King Henry VII at the battles of Stoke in 1487. He fought again for the King at the Battle of Blackheath in 1497 and was made a Knight of the Bath at the marriage of Prince Arthur to Catherine of Aragon7.
William and Elizabeth had two sons and a daughter:
- William (of whom next).
- Elizabeth, who married Humphry Fielding of Lutterworth.
William Kendall II of Smisby
William Kendall married Anne, the daughter of Otes Reddish of Reddish, Lancashire in about 1525. Anne was the guardian of her children from her first marriage to Ellis Barlow of Barlow (now Chorlton cum Hardy, Manchester); Alexander and Margaret. Margaret became the fourth wife of Edward Stanley, the Earl of Derby. Alexander served as MP for Wigan. However, Alexander was arrested as a recusant catholic and due to his frailty at that time died in custody in 1584. Alexander’s grandson Edward was martyred for his catholic faith in 1641, he was later canonised and became St Ambrose8.
William also added to his lands in the area of Snibston with the acquisition of the priory and chapel, which prior to the dissolution of the monasteries was in the possession of the monastery of St Mary’s of Coventry. William’s grandson, Henry, was to enclose this property, evicting the local population and incorporated it into the manorial estate.
William and Anne had one son:
- George (of whom next).
George Kendall of Smisby (1527-1566)
George Kendall was born in 1527. He married firstly Jane, the daughter of William Jennings of Westminster and secondly Mary, the daughter of Francis Repington of Armington. George had three children by Jane and a son by Mary. Following George’s death in 1566 Mary remarried Sir Clement Fisher of Great Packington9.
Under the terms of George’s last will and testament Mary was given the retention of Twycross Manor until her death. When his guardian, Sir William Skipworth, compiled his inventory of Henry Kendall II of Smisby’s estate in 35 Eliz. I (1593/1594) Mary was still in occupation10. Mary died at sometime after 1621 and was interred at Great Packington with her second husband11..
Although William Jennings almost certainly had a coat of arms but his ancestral lineage is not known at this time and his arms have not been identified.
George Kendall and Jane Jennings had two sons and a daughter12.:
- Henry (of whom next).
- Margaret, married her 3rd Cousin, Henry Kendall of Austrey (d.1592).
George Kendall and Mary Repington had a son13.:
- Francis d.s.p.
Henry Kendall I of Smisby (d. 1592)
Following George Kendall’s death his eldest son and heir, Henry, was made a ward of Henry Hastings, The 3rd Earl of Huntingdon in 156914.. Hastings was married to Katherine Dudley, the sister of Robert Dudley the one-time favourite of Queen Elizabeth. He was also the cousin of Lady Jane Grey and the son of Katherine Pole and as such was of Plantagenet descent, he was imprisoned in the Tower of London during the reign of Queen Mary. The Hastings held the castle at Ashby-de-la-Zouche which is about two miles from Smisby where the Hasting’s maunch is incorporated into a buttress of St James’s Church.
Henry Kendall married Eleanor, a daughter of Henry Sacheverell of Ratcliff on Soar15.. As well as providing lineage to a number of important families in the midlands, this branch of the Sacheverell’s provided ancestry through the Stathums of Morley, and the Barons of Burford to King John. Henry died in late 1592 with Eleanor predeceasing him within a couple of years, following the birth of Thomas. Henry and Eleanor had three children.
- Henry (of whom next).
- Thomas, d.s.p. in 1606.
- Catherine (b.1583 d.21 February 1657), married Thomas Babington (d.1645) of Rothley Temple.
Henry Kendall II of Smisby (1588-1527)
Henry was born in 1588 to Henry Kendall and Eleanor Sacheverell. He was only 3 years old at the time of his father’s death and was made a ward of William Skipworth, one of the MP’s for Leicestershire who was supported by Henry Hasting’s brother George, the 4th Earl of Huntingdon16.. At some point the wardship and marriage of Henry was sold to Gabriel Armstrong of Rempston. Gabriel was the cousin of Henry’s mother, Eleanor Sacheverell.
At the age of 15, Henry Kendall married Gabriel Armstrong’s daughter Elizabeth on 31 May 1603 at Thorpe in le Glottes near Rempston17.. Henry attended Pembroke College, Cambridge in 1605. Henry and Elizabeth were to have 16 children. Henry died on 18 April 1627. Henry’s memorial in Smisby church provides a detailed record of his children. Elizabeth passed away in 1640. Henry and Elizabeth had sixteen children:
1. Henry (b. 1610) of whom next.
2. Gabriel d.s.p. in 1650 in Ashby de la Zouche.
5. Thomas, died in infancy.
7. John, died in infancy.
10. Elizabeth, married an unidentified Skipworth.
Henry Kendall III of Smisby (b.1611 d.1654)
Henry Kendall was born to Henry Kendall and Elizabeth in 1611. Henry married Frances Noel in 1631. She was the daughter of William Noel of Kirkby Mallory and Frances the daughter of John Fullwood. This marriage bought further links to important midlands families and further lines of royal descent to the Kendall family. In addition, the current monarch is descended from William Noel’s grandfather, Andrew Noel.
It is unknown whether Henry fought in the civil war but unlike his kinsmen in Austrey who commanded the Parliamentarian garrison at Maxstoke Castle, he was certainly a Royalist. The bells in St James’ church, Smisby are cast with “God Save the King 1617” and “God Save King Charles the Second 1662” it is likely that his father and son, Henry, were responsible for these.
Frances’ brother was Sir Verney Noel was made the 1st Baronet of Kirkby Mallory on the restoration of the monarchy. Verney Noel spoke in parliament on 14 November 1653, where he read a petition on behalf of Henry Kendall and his eldest son with regards to the sale of lands to settle his debts . It is probable that Henry was unable to act at this time as his son was still in his minority and inherited his estate in 1654.
Henry and Frances had four sons and seven daughters.
- Henry, (b. 1634) (of whom next.)
- William Kendall of Barleston.
- George, was baptised at St James’s, Twycross on 27 June 1638.
- John, was baptised at St James’s, Twycross on 5 March 1639. John married Isabel the daughter and heir of Francis Pickering of Belton. This line of descent became landowners in and around Thorpe Langton in Leicestershire.
- Mary, who married Philip Weston (b.1637) of Rugeley, Staffordshire. He was the grandson and heir of Ralph Weston of Rugeley .
Henry Kendall IV of Smisby
Henry Kendall was the last Kendall to hold the manor at Smisby. He was born to Henry Kendall and Francis Noel in 1634. He married Elizabeth, a daughter of Thomas Pegge of Yeldersley and Catherine the daughter of Sir Gilbert Kniveton of 2nd Baronet of Mercaston. Gilbert Kniveton being the cousin of Elizabeth Armstrong, Henry’s grandmother.
Thomas Pegge was a royalist who was captured while fighting under Henry Hastings, 1st Lord of Loughborough and was exiled to Bruges. During this exile another daughter of his, Katherine, started a long-term affair with King Charles II by whom she had two illegitimate children; Katherine, who became a nun and Charles who the King made the 1st Earl of Plymouth following the restitution.
On 30 May 1679 Henry’s eldest son, Henry Kendall V of Snibston formerly of Smisby, made a legal challenge to the Lord Chancellor, Heneage Finch the 1st Earl of Nottingham that Thomas Pegge had died intestate and that he and his brother and sisters had a claim to his estate. Ultimately, this claim was to fail and Thomas Pegge’s will was awarded probate on 3 August 1680. Henry and Elizabeth had six children:
- Henry (b. 1557).
1. The history and antiquities of the county of Leicester : Vol. 4, Part 2, containing Sparkenhoe Hundred, John Nichols (Nichols, Leicestershire) 1811 pp.985 accessed on 30 July 2017 at http://leicester.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/ref/collection/p15407coll6/id/6226 internet page 716 and The Kendalls of Austrey Twycross and Smithsy, A Family History, Henry John Broughton Kendall (Private Circulation, W. P. Griffith and Sons) 1909. pp. various. Although these two works provide valuable information they are littered with inaccuracies and assumptions which do not withstand closer inspection. In HJB Kendall’s the pedigree p.22 provides that Bartholomew Kendall died 1462 which is not possible as evidence through court documents has him alive in the 16th century. Nichols provides evidence that he was alive in 1462 and HJB Kendall’s mistake is maybe a misinterpretation. Nichols states that Margaret Shepey was born in 1560, again this this is not possible as the date is far too late given she inherited from her brother in 1509. Given, from her brothers post mortum investigation, that she was 60 in 1500 he year of birth is circa 1450.
2. Burton MS 253, Deed in possession of S Roper in 1909 cited by HJB Kendall The Kendalls of Austrey Twycross and Smithsy, A Family History, Henry John Broughton Kendall (Private Circulation, W. P. Griffith and Sons) 1909 p.26.
3. National Archive Kew, Reference C 241/273/64.
4. National Archive, Feet of fines Reference C 25/1/126/80 accessed at http://www.medievalgenealogy.org.uk/fines/abstracts/CP_25_1_126_80.shtml on 30 November 2017.
5. The agreement was in the possession of Jelinger Symons in 1909, he was the husband of Angelina the daughter of Edward Kendall, the Last Kendall to hold the manor of Austrey. There is some confusion over the date of this agreement. A copy is contained on p.21 of HJB Kendall’s work with a transcript on pp.50-51. The transcript states that the agreement was made 10th May 10 Hen. VII (1496) which is supported by the photograph on p.21. However, HJB Kendall take is as 10th May 10 Hen. VI which would be 1433. Although not perfectly clear the photograph on p.21 it would seem to support 1496 as the correct year. Given that William’s uncles died at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 and that his grandfather married in 1448/1449 the 1433 option would not appear to have any validity.
6. The Visitation of Warwickshire, taken in 1619, William Camden, Clarencieux King at Arms edited by John Featherston (London) 1877 pp.10-12. accessed at https://archive.org/stream/visitationcount01britgoog#page/n6/mode/2up/search/feilding on 30 November 2017.
7. A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage of the British Empire. 27. Ed, John Bernard Burke (Harrison) 1865 p.316.
8. A History of the Ancient Chapels of Didsbury and Chorlton, in Manchester Parish, Rev. John Booker (Chetham Society) 1855 p.253.
9. The Visitation of Warwickshire, taken in 1619, William Camden, Clarencieux King at Arms edited by John Featherston (London) 1877 pp.216-217. accessed at https://archive.org/stream/visitationcount01britgoog#page/n6/mode/2up/search/feilding on 30 November 2017.
10. The Kendalls of Austrey Twycross and Smithsy, A Family History, Henry John Broughton Kendall (Private Circulation, W. P. Griffith and Sons) 1909. pp.61-62.
11. Memorial Inscription at Great Packington.
14. The Puritan Earl, the life of Henry Hastings the third Earl of Huntingdon 1536 – 1595, Claire Cross (Springer) 1966. p.105 p338.
15. The marriage of Henry to a daughter of Sacheverell is found in a number of sources including, The Kendalls of Austrey Twycross and Smithsy, A Family History, Henry John Broughton Kendall (Private Circulation, W. P. Griffith and Sons) 1909 pp.42-47, which cites a number of pedigrees that leave her absent, her forename blank or make reference to her name being Helen, which is the name adopted by HJB Kendall and Nicholls in The history and antiquities of the county of Leicester : Vol. 4, Part 2, containing Sparkenhoe Hundred, John Nichols (Nichols, Leicestershire) 1811 pp.985 accessed on 30 July 2017 at http://leicester.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/ref/collection/p15407coll6/id/6226 internet page 716. However, on Page 47 of Kendall’s work she is referred to as “E” and in Henry Kendall’s will she is named as “Elinor”. Finally on the memorial tomb of Henry Sacheverel and his wife, Jane Ireton, there three sons and three daughters named as Gervais, Henry, Francis, Eleanor, Jane and Marie
16. The Kendalls of Austrey Twycross and Smithsy, A Family History, Henry John Broughton Kendall (Private Circulation, W. P. Griffith and Sons) 1909 pp.61-62
17. Nottinghamshire: – Abstracts of Marriage Licenses. 1: Archdeaconry Court, 1577-1700 2. Peculiar of Southwell, 1588-1754.