The Twickenham Museum
People : Merchants and Entrepreneurs

John West
Scrivener and, with his wife Frances, benefactor
1641 - 1723

Copy of the record of the baptism of John West, son of Simon, in the registers of the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Twickenham

John West and his wife, Francis, are principally known for the series of charitable bequests that they established. One, of particular interest to Twickenham, was a benefaction whereby places for up to six boys and two girls from Twickenham could be provided each year, at Christ's Hospital in London.

His family in Twickenham & Hampton in the 17th Century

John West was of a family who settled in Twickenham early in the 17th century. A branch of the family moved to Hampton, remaining at least until the early years of the 18th century. The family appears to have migrated from near Guildford in Surrey, but what provoked the move to Twickenham is not known. Remarkably, four generations of the family in Twickenham supplied Churchwardens on five occasions to the parish during the century.

Edward West (Senior) c1564-1641

John's grandfather Edward West is first recorded as living in Twickenham, with his family, in 1611. At a Court of the Manor of Isleworth Syon held on 4 February 1611/12 he was admitted to “one cottage with appurtenances, lying and being in Twickenham, abutting above, the land of Thomas Christmas on the Western and Northern sides and the land of John Guyldon the eastern side and the King's Way on the Southern side”. This imprecise description suggests that the property was on Twickenham Common, to the west of the town, with its southern boundary adjoining the road leading from Twickenham to Hampton. It was to remain in family ownership for over one hundred years.

Described variously as a weaver and yeoman, Edward served as a Churchwarden in 1616 having presumably worked his way up through the hierarchy of the Vestry for several years. Curiously, he is not mentioned as a Vestryman again until 1626, although this could have been his son.

He married twice, first Agnes Mattris at the Church of St Nicholas Guildford on 18 November 1584. Of their five children two sons survived: Reginald (Reinald, Rennold) and Michael. He married, secondly, on 17 April 1605 Katherine Loick at Wonersh, Surrey. Wonersh is three miles south of Guildford and the two marriages so close suggest nearby residence for Edward. He probably brought Reginald and Michael, together with Katherine and their first two sons with him to Twickenham. These were Edward (Junior) and John, both baptised elsewhere but who settled in Twickenham with families, though marrying elsewhere. Their third son was Simon, baptised here as Symon Weste son of Edward on 13 November 1614, later the father of John. Their fourth son was George, baptised on 1 October 1618. George died young and was buried on 23 July 1628.

Edward is noted as a Vestryman in 1636 when, on 18 April, he is recorded, with others, donating money to the parish, but then he seems to have moved to Hampton, perhaps to retire and live with his son Reginald who had settled there, and where he was buried on 7 February 1640/1. Katherine, his widow, was buried two years later, also at Hampton, on 26 February 1642/3.

Edward West (Junior) d.1633/4

It may have been Edward's son who was elected to the Vestry in 1626 and served as a Churchwarden in 1633, the year of his death. He married Susan and three children were baptised at St Mary's: Edward on 16 August 1629 (buried 19 October), Edward again on 2 September 1630 (of whom nothing more is known at present) and Susan on 3 April 1633. Neither his occupation nor his place of residence is known, if this was other than in the family home. In fact he and his brother Simon were named as co-heirs of their parents' property in Twickenham on the death of Katherine in 1742/3. By this time Edward had died and Simon was established in London, so it seems that John was admitted in their place to the property.

By a codicil to his Will, dated 19 June 1716 John West (Junior) left to “my kinswoman a daughter of my unckle Edward West I think her name is Kilby but she is a sister of my couzen Pastern twenty pounds”. Susan baptised in 1633 would, if still living, be 83 at this date.

Record of the baptism of Simon West at the church of St Mary the Virgin, Twickenham, on 13 November 1614. Taken from the original Register of Baptisms

Simon West 1614-1679

Simon West spent the first 15 years of his life in Twickenham, moving to London, apprenticed in 1629 to John Bull, a Stationer. Completing his apprenticeship in 1636 he married Anne Keane, but it is thought his second wife, Elizabeth Stare, was the mother of John.

John West (Senior) c1610-1686

John married Elizabeth Pluckington at St Martin in the Fields, Westminster, in 1637 and their family of eight children were baptised at Twickenham between 1639 and 1659.* Elizabeth may have been of a family prominent in Hampton throughout the 16th and 17th centuries: Richard Pluckington (?son of Henry) was a substantial tenant of the Manor in the middle years of the 17th century. John West is listed as a ratepayer in Twickenham in 1643, the second year for which lists were included in the Churchwardens' Accounts. In 1646 he signed, with 32 other residents, a proposal for the tithes to be collected for the use of the parish: a procedure apparently adopted following the departure of Ferdinando Nicholls, a temporary minister, unpaid.

John is noted as a member of Vestry in 1649 when, with other Vestrymen he signed an order for charity money to be passed to the Churchwardens, for the relief of the poor. He actually was one of the two Churchwardens for this year and the next: their accounts being duly recorded and approved by the Vestry. He was appointed a Surveyor of the Highways, with John Hathaway in 1657. He was listed as a Copyholder of the Manor in the Articles of Agreement between the Lord of the Manor of Isleworth Syon and his tenants dated 20 May 1656. In a Survey of the parish carried out in 1661 he was listed as the occupier of a small house valued at £3-10-0. He was listed as a ratepayer on 13 June 1659 for 1/3d and again on 27 May 1660 at 2/6d. They were modest assessments in a list which ranged from £1.10.0 and £3.0.0 for the Earl of Manchester at York House down to 1/-. These were special rates levied respectively for repairs to the church, and re-casting the bells. He served again as a Churchwarden in 1669 and 1670, continuing to pay rates until his death in 1686.

John's youngest son Robert (1653-91) served as a churchwarden in 1688, but he does not appear in any rating assessment and may have remained living in the family property. Described as a goldsmith of Twickenham he married Jane Cole (1658-1747) of the brewing family, in 1690, the year before his death. Entered as Mrs West Widd (widow) and then as Mrs Jane West Widd she paid her rates until 1702. The following year she married again, Leonard Hotchkiss, an Attorney of Staples Inn. He was buried on 31 December 1712 and in 1747 she was buried in the same grave as her two husbands.

The Barmy Arms, previously The Queen's Head, on Twickenham Riverside

John West (Junior) 1641-1723

Simon's son was probably born in London, being brought for baptism at St Mary's, Twickenham on 1 November 1641. There is no record of his residence here; he lived his life in London where, in 1658, he was apprenticed to John Parrey, a Clothworker. Later he became a Scrivener and this was the source of his enormous wealth. Yet he must have visited his relatives at Twickenham: there were, for him, strong ties to the place where his uncle John lived, with his large family, for virtually the whole of his life.

John also kept in touch with the Hampton branch where there was still a West family in 1716. In a codicil to his will he left £20 to his godson there; this could have been the grandson of Nicholas who died in 1683, the son of Reginald.

Though non-resident, he bought three properties in Twickenham. Some time before 1718 he had acquired ownership of a Public House then known as The Queen's Head, and now The Barmy Arms, on Twickenham's riverside. He also acquired another Public House, bequeathed to his wife Frances by his Will of 1688. Described as The Kings Arms, this may actually have been The Kings Head which, rebuilt in 1747, stood at the corner of King Street and Water Lane. The building was demolished for road widening in 1928.

Likely original position of the West property at the start of Second Cross Road

In 1690 he acquired the family property on Twickenham Common. Entries in the Court Books of the Manor of Isleworth Syon show that he bought this from his cousin Robert who had been admitted to it in 1686 on the death of his father, John (Senior). John conveyed the property to the Clothworkers Company either in 1718 or just before his death at the end of 1723.

The Enclosure Award of 1818 shows a rectangular plot (no124) awarded to the Clothworkers Company which can today be identified as nos11 & 13, a pair of 19th century cottages earlier known as 3 & 4 Burton Villas, in Second Cross Road which runs between Staines Road and the Hampton Road to the west of Twickenham Green. The position and shape of this plot can only date from that year: it was probably awarded to the Clothworkers in exchange for the actual West property facing the Hampton Road. This must have been in a position inconvenient for the layout of the new road across the Common planned by the Enclosure Comissioners.

With this information the property described in the admission of Edward West (Senior) in 1612 can be more precisely located: it was at the lower end of the new road. Edward's house and ground probably occupied the first stretch of this road.

Reginald (1587-1663) & Michael West (d.1623)

The two sons of Edward (Senior): Reginald (sometimes Rennold, Reinald) and Michael by his first marriage, to Agnes Mattris, came to Twickenham with him. Michael, apparently without family, died and was buried there on 23 April 1623. Reginald married Sara Watkins at Twickenham on 23 July 1615. She died there and was buried five weeks later, on 30 August. Reginald moved to Hampton and married again, Hester Caine of Teddington, on 23 June 1616. Their daughter, also Hester, was baptised at Hampton on 11 August 1617. A son, Nicholas was baptised on 4 November 1626, nine years later. Between these dates, at Twickenham, Jane was baptised the daughter of Reginald and Ester on 14 November 1619 and Elizabeth on 2 March 1622. Hester, the mother was buried at Hampton on 10 March 1631.

Reginald was a bricklayer, possibly a small builder with access to the brickfields which lay to the west of Hampton parish, and records suggest that he worked at Hampton Court. He was buried (as Reinald West) on 26 March 1663, the father of Nicholas who is noted as the executor of his will recorded (though now missing) at Hampton Court that year.

Reginald and Nicholas appear in the records: as Jurymen at the Hampton Manor Court; Nicholas with 2 hearths in the 1664 Assessment, and an Overseer of the Poor for 1665 and 1666. Reginald contributed to the cost of repairs to the church in 1656 and Nicholas to the cost of rebuilding the steeple, in 1679.

This is a chronology of the family record so far as it is known at present:

22 Jan 1587 Baptism of Reginald son of Edward West and Agnes place unknown
23 July 1615 Marriage of Reinald West & Sara Watkins Twickenham
30 Aug 1615 Burial of Sara West Twickenham
11 Aug 1617 Baptism of Hester, daughter of Rennold & Hester West Hampton
14 Nov 1619 Baptism of Jane, daughter of Reginald & Ester West Twickenham
2 Mar 1622 Baptism of Elizabeth, daughter of Reginald & Ester West Twickenham
4 Nov 1626 Baptism of Nicolas, son of Rennold & Hester West Hampton
10 Mar 1631 Burial of Hester West Hampton
26 Mar 1663 Burial of Reinald West Hampton
1683 Burial of Nicholas West Hampton

* Baptisms of the Children of John and Elizabeth West at Twickenham:

08 Dec 1639 an (unnamed) son of John
19 Aug 1641 John (buried 13 January 1659 “John the Younger”)
28 Sep 1643 Elizabeth
29 Mar 1646 Urith
12 Sep 1652 Robard, buried 13 September
02 Oct 1653 Robert (buried 19 August 1691)
08 May 1656 Katherin
02 May 1659 Mary

References & Sources:

The archives of the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Twickenham
Transcriptions of the Registers of the Church of St Mary, Hampton
The John & Frances West Family Group website family tree (Brian Evans and Marion Aldridge)
Bernard Garside: The Lanes and Fields of Hampton Town during the 17th Century, 1953
People & Homes in Hampton-on-Thames during the 16th & 17th Century, 1956
Parish affairs in Hampton Town during the 17th Century, 1954
G E Mercer, The Cole Papers, Borough of Twickenham Local History Society Paper No56, 1985
John West, PCC Wills, Prob11/592, 28 Nov 1723, Richmond 136-182
Marian Aldridge & Brian Evans, Further West, Article in the John & Frances West Family Group Newsletter number 9, February 2000.

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