Connections between Ancestral Families and Wiltshire County, England

I have pulled together various citations related to possible ancestors residing in or emigrating from 16th or 17th century Wiltshire County, England. The following questions seem to be appropriate:

1) Is there a parallel between the involvement of persons surnamed Saunders or otherwise likely related through the DNA research discussed elsewhere on this website and “religious dissent”?

2) Is there evidence of involvement of ancestors in the tobacco trade both in Wiltshire and in Virginia?

3) Is there evidence that the impact of the English Civil War on Wiltshire and surrounding counties influenced the emigration to the American colonies?



From Founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, by Sarah Saunders Smith (beginning at page 17): From the Colonial Records also from deeds and wills, we find the family of Sanders who came to America were from Wiltshire County, England, as also were many of the organizers of the Plymouth Colony. . . There were fifteen distinct parishes of Wiltshire.   From Wiltshire Magazine (date unknown):

Wiltshire is pre-eminently connected with the early history 
of tobacco, not only by reason of the tobacco-manufactory at 
Amesbury, whose fame was once greater than any other in the 
land, but also because the best collection of the earliest pipes 
known to the world is to be found in the Blackmore museum at 
Salisbury. It may be necessary therefore to give some slight 
account of the history of tobacco for the benefit of those who 
have read nothing more about it than has already been pre- 
sented to them in the pages of this magazine.

Amesbury was famous for its tobacco pipe manufacture in the 16th century.


From the History of Parliament:

RICHARD TRACY elected to parliament, representing the constituency of Wootton Bassett.

The following excerpt is from the History of Parliament:

“The borough of Wootton Bassett, for which Tracy was returned to the Parliament of 1529, was to be represented by many men from across the nearby border, but his home near Winchcomb was rather distant for him to be accounted a local man: the same was true of his fellow-Member, Walter Winston, who lived at Randwick near Stroud.

Like two other Wiltshire boroughs, Devizes and Marlborough, Wootton Bassett formed part of the jointure of successive queens consort and this court connexion probably explains the appearance among its Members of men who had little, if any, personal connexion with it. In the case of Tracy, the names of possible patrons include those of Sir Edward Baynton, a local magnate who besides securing his own election for the shire may have been influential in other boroughs, and Sir John Brydges, who was returned for Gloucestershire and whose marriage connexions with Tracy probably assisted his election. If religious sympathy entered into the matter,

Baynton’s incipient Protestantism would have made him a natural patron for the son of so doughty a reformist as William Tracy.

The following excerpt is from the Victoria County History; Page, William (editor), A History of the County of Gloucester Volume 2, 1907.

“In 1535 Cromwell appointed Anthony Saunders, the curate of Winchcombe, to read to the monks of Winchcombe and preach in the parish. L. and P. Hen. VIII, ix, No. 747. On 2 November he complained to Cromwell of the abbot of Hayles—

“I have small favour and assistance amongst Pharasaical papists. The Abbot of Hayles has hired a great Golyas, a subtle Dun’s man, yea a great clerk, as he sayeth, a bachelor of divinity of Oxford to catch me in my sermons.

He added that this preacher rather maintained than spoke against the usurped power of the bishop of Rome. However, Abbot Stephen was not openly hostile to Cromwell. On 28 January, 1536, he wrote asking him to dispense with some of the new injunctions which were most galling to the religious. L. and P. Hen. VIII, ix, No. 747 (p.192). Since Cromwell had visited the house, he wrote—

“The number of my brethren is sore decayed. I have buried three, two are sore sick, one had licence to depart, and I have three in Oxford at divinity. I beg that I may take in more to help the choir.

“On 18 June he told Cromwell that in accordance with his wish he had granted the farm of Longborough to Robert Hopper. (L. and P. Hen. VIII, x, p. 1163)

“In 1538 commissioners were appointed in every county to destroy the shrines. Latimer, bishop of Worcester, reported to Cromwell that the relic of the Holy Blood of Hayles seemed, after examination, to be ‘an unctuous gum and a compound of many things.’ (fn. 56) It was dispatched to London, and on 24 November Hilsey, bishop of Rochester, preached at Paul’s Cross, and there showed the Blood of Hayles, affirming it to be ‘honey clarified and coloured with saffron, as had been evidently proved before the king and his council.’ (fn. 57) Abbot Stephen wrote to Cromwell praying that he might destroy the empty shrine, ‘lest it should minister occasion for stumbling to the weak.’ (fn. 58)

“On 24 December, 1539, the abbot and twenty-one monks surrendered the monastery. (fn. 59) Dr. London and his fellow-commissioners reported to Cromwell that they found— the father and all his brethren very honest and conformable persons, and the house clearly out of debt. . . . The father had his house and grounds so well furnished with jewels, plate, stuff, corn, cattle, and the woods also so well saved, as though he had looked for no alteration of his house. (fn. 60)

“A pension of £100 a year, with the manorhouse of Coscomb, was assigned to the abbot; the prior and one monk got £8; the rest received pensions varying from £7 to £1 6s. 8d. a year, and two monks were given vicarages. (fn. 61) Wages were paid to seventy servants of the household. (fn. 62)

“In 1535 the clear yearly value of the property of Hayles amounted to £357 7s. 8½d. (fn. 63) The possessions of the monastery included the manors of Hayles, Pinnockshire, Nether Swell, Wormington, Coscomb, Longborough; rents in the towns of Gloucester and Winchcombe; lands and rents in Didbrook, Challingworth, and Farmcote, in Gloucestershire; the manor of Rodbourne in Wiltshire; pastures at Heathend in Worcestershire; and the rectories of Hagley in Suffolk, Northley in Oxfordshire, St. Breage and St. Paul in Cornwall, Rodbourne in Wiltshire, Hayles, Didbrook, Longborough, and Toddington in Gloucestershire.”


“During the organizaiton of the Plymouth Colony we find Sir Edwin Sandys, Biashop of York and afterward Lord Mayor of London. His ancestral estates were at Wiltshire County. Many records of his family are to be found at Salisbury, the county town. We quote from history and these records the short account of George Sanders, brother of Sir Edwin. “George Sanders was born 1577. After passing some time at Oxford in 1610 he travelled over Europe to Turkey; visited Palestine and Egupt. He published his travels at Oxford 1615, and they recewived great attention. The first poetical production in Angel’s Amerian Legislature, was published by him, while acting in capacity of Secretary of the Virginia Colony and in the midst of the confusion which followed the massacre of 1622.


St Edmunds Parish, Salisbury, Wiltshire:

John Sanders and Grace Burrowe, lie.


Banks Topographical Dictionary of English Immigrants
1620-1650 states there was a John Sanders of Easton
in Wiltshire that emigrated between 1620-1650

Wiltshire Record Office states thata John Sanders
came from Downton and emigrated 1620-1650


Thomas Sanders, 22 May 1633, imported 200 pounds if tobacco on the ship Lyon. [WHB – Although this record does not specify Wiltshire, I believe the possible relationship with the following record should be considered.]


Arthur Sanders, 1634, license to sell tobacco in Salisbury, Wiltshire


“It was during the 16th and early 17th centuries that the area around Winchcombewas extremely poor , it was during this period that a family named Tracy established themselves at Toddington, the eldest son Sir John Tracy became involved with a John Stratford who was related to him by marriage, they set up a business together to grow tobacco in the area, with plantations at Toddington and Bishops Cleeve. “Tobacco was widely grown on the Cotswolds, the Vale of Tewkesbury and in an area which extended as far south as Wiltshire.


From an account of the voyage of the Confidence:

CONFIDENCE, of London, two hundred tons, John Gibson, Master. She sailed from Southampton the last of April,` by vertue of the Lord Treasurers warrant of the 11th of April,1638. 1  JOHN SANDERS,  25 of Langford, Wilts, Salisbury, husbandman; Mrs. Sarah Sanders, John Cole 40,  Roger Eastman 15 servant; Richard Blake 16 servant; William Cottle 12 servant; Robert King 24 servant                                                      

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