Robert Lindfield of Barnards Inn

One of the many “loose ends” in the history of the Lin(d)field families is in the form of Robert Linfield, who died in London in 1685. His will is one of a large number of documents in the Whitmore Collection, a microfilm copy of which is available at the Society of Genealogists in London. (Ref. 1)

The will is quite short, being written originally on a single sheet of paper, and I have reproduced it here in full. Sadly, the writing is difficult to read on the microfilm and words which are unreadable or unclear are shown in brackets.

“Will of Robert Linfield of Barnards Inn London, gent, 27th Oct 1683. Burial at discretion of my Exor. To my mother for mourning if she be a widow at time of my death {………} To my very kind Aunt Margt Keble, spinster 20 yearly of profits of my shop in the Exchange during her life and I give her 10 for {……….}. To my Aunt Aylisse 10 [for {…….} ]. To my brother Edward Linfield the same and 50 also. {To my} sister Farindon 10 for the {….} To my brother Richard’s son Richard 20 at age of 21 years. All residue not {….} of my estate to my brother James Linfield and his heirs for ever my sole Exor.

Memorandum. My Codicil dated 3rd May 1685. To my bro. Edward Linfield 100 further & my silver tankard, my silver sword I bought of Mr Dod, my mare & gelding. To Bridget Asberry for her care in my sickness 5. To Joan Atherly 40/-. The rest of my stock I leave to my Exor asking him to be very kind to my bro. Edward & his children notwithstanding this codicil.

Signed in pres. of Charles Dayley, Margaret {Helle}, Walter {Attertun}

pr with codicil at London 2nd Oct 1685 by James Linfield brother of sd. decd. and Exor. named in the will.”


From the amounts of money in the estate we may deduce that Robert was a fairly wealthy man and it would be interesting to know what type of shop he had in “the Exchange”. This was presumably the Royal Exchange, which would have been almost exactly a mile from his home at Barnard’s Inn. The Royal Exchange which existed at Cornhill at the time of Robert’s will, was actually the second of three buildings on the site to bear that name. The first was built by Thomas Gresham in about 1567 and was opened by Queen Elizabeth I on 23 January 1570. She had dined with Sir Thomas, as he then was, and then toured the Exchange and caused it “by a herald and trumpet to be proclaimed The Royal Exchange, and so to be called from henceforth and not otherwise”. This building was destroyed in the Great Fire, and was duly replaced in 1669 by the second Royal Exchange, designed by Edward Jarman. This too, was to be the victim of a fire, but not until 1838, following which the present building was erected. At the time of Robert Linfield, the exchange was probably not completely occupied by traders for it is recorded that it proved difficult to let all the shops. The main part of the building was eventually taken over by Lloyds and the Royal Exchange Insurance Companies. It is to be assumed that they took out suitable fire insurance!

Barnard’s Inn, where Robert apparently had his home, was originally known as Mackworth’s Inn and is situated on the south side of Holborn close to Fetter Lane. The premises had been left to the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln, in the will of one John Mackworth, the Dean of Lincoln. Later it was bought by a society of lawyers, headed by a man named Barnard. It then became an Inn of Chancery. By the middle of the 19th century, the building had evidently fallen into disrepair. It was purchased in 1892 by the Mercer Livery Company for 43,000 as premises for the Mercers School. It survived the second world war intact, and the school moved away in 1959. The buildings are now leased to the Prudential Insurance Company.

Charles Dickens lived on the other side of Holborn, in what was then Furnival’s Inn, from 1834 until 1839. It was here that he wrote Pickwick Papers, and he also describes Barnard’s Inn in some detail in Great Expectations, as the place where Pip lived with Herbert Pocket.

From the terms of the will, it would appear that both of Robert’s parents were alive in 1683, suggesting that he himself died at a fairly early age of the sickness to which he refers. This is supported by the reference to the son of his brother Richard who had not reached the age of 21 at that time. As to his parents’ names we have no clues, except that he refers to his Aunt Margaret Keble as a spinster. This suggests that his mother’s maiden name may have been Keble. However, he could have been referring to a great-aunt, in which case we are none the wiser. There was a marriage in June 1615, between a William Keble and Joan Elkyn, but no connection has been proved. (Ref. 2) It is not clear whether his aunt Aylisse (Alice?) was on his father’s or his mother’s side.

There is a reference to a John Linckfield in 1638, when he is recorded as living in the fourth precinct of St. Botolph without Bishopsgate. (Ref. 3) This parish, the registers of which commence in 1558, was in the area now centred around Liverpool Street station, about half a mile to the north of the Royal Exchange. The difference in spelling of the surname is probably not significant, not only because the early origins of the family probably lie in the Linkfield area of Redhill, Surrey, but also because names tended to be recorded as they were spoken. The pronunciation is generally believed to have been somewhat more nasal than it is today, making the name sound like Linkfield.

The name of his sister is difficult to make out on the microfilm copy, but appears to be Farindon. I have never encountered that as a Christian name, though there is a house of that name in the Beacon Heath area of Lingfield in Surrey. (Ref. 4) Interestingly, one of the families of Linfields at that time which most closely matches that of Robert, is actually recorded in the Lingfield area. Whether this is pure coincidence remains to be determined.

As yet, I have not been able to check the records for the births, marriages and deaths of the people mentioned in the will, though there is a record in the International Genealogical Index of the marriage of a Richard Linfield in 1689. This could presumably have been the son of Richard who was under 21 in 1683.

The information in the will suggests that the immediate family of Robert Linfield might have been as follows. (Numbers such as #3273 are the reference numbers by which individuals are known in the database).

First Generation
1. i ——- Linfield #3273 born abt 1600.
i Alice Linfield #3274 born abt 1630, living 1683. Mentioned in will of Robt. Linfield #3268 as Aunt Aylisse. Bequest 10. No evidence to confirm that she was on his father’s side.
2. ii —— #3266 born abt 1620.
Second Generation
2 —— Linfield #3266 b. abt 1620, London?, m. ——– Keble #3267, b. abt 1620, (daughter of ——- Keble #3275) Living 1683, London.
i Robert Linfield #3268 born. abt 1650, London?, d. 1685, London, living 1683, Barnards Inn, London (EC1).
ii James Linfield #3269 born. abt 1650, London?, living 1685. Poss. same as #71. Exor. of will of bro. Robt. 2 October 1685, London.
iii Edward Linfield #3270 born. abt 1650, London?, living 1685, London?. Poss same as #1623. Ment. in will of bro. Robt. in 1683/5.
iv Farindon Linfield #3271 born. abt 1650, London?, living 1683. There is a house called Farindons in Beacon Heath, Lingfield. It is described as a house of Georgian character but apparently built after the 1840 tithe map perhaps by Col. St. Clare who purchased the property in 1853. No information as to whether it replaced an earlier property of the same name. 1
3. v Richard #3272 born. abt 1650.
Third Generation
3.  Richard Linfield #3272 b. abt 1650, London?, living 1683.
i Richard Linfield #3277 b. aft 1662, London?, living 1683. Under 21 in 1683 [will of Robt. Linfield #3268] May have married Mary Duckworth 1 Dec 1689 at St. Dunstan’s, Stepney.

I mentioned that the family matched fairly closely another section of the Linfield tree, and the notes to James and Edward show the numbers of another pair of brothers who lived at about the same time. The second James and Edward, numbers #71 and #1623 respectively, were the sons of an Edward Linfield, who may in turn have been the son of Richard Lingfield or Lingfeld of Chaldon, Surrey. He was baptised at Chaldon in 1590. I have not proved the connection between Richard and Edward, but the fact that Edward had a number of children is documented in parish records. Five children are recorded, and the son James is possibly the James Linfield referred to in a mortgage assignment of April 1695 “from Edwd Linfeild of Lingfield Sy, gent (bro and one of administrators of estate of Jas L, late of London, gent, decd to whom mortgage had been assigned 26,7 June 1693 etc)”. (Ref. 6) . (Ref. )

His brother Edward appears to have been baptised on 30 April 1648 at Lingfield, and may have died in 1708. An Edward Linfield of Lingfield, gentleman, is shown as purchasing lands in Lingfield in 1685/6. (Ref. 7) Given that this corresponds with the date of Robert Linfield’s death, it seems possible that these land purchases might have been made with the money left in that will.

However, this is very much in the realms of conjecture and a lot of work still needs to be done to arrive at a firm conclusion.


  1. The Whitmore Collection; Society of Genealogists, London. MF 519
  2. A Calendar of the Marriages Licence Allegations of the Bishop of London 1597-1700. Glencross R M; British Record Society
  3. The Inhabitants of London in 1638. Edited from MS 272 in the Lambeth Palace Library by T C Dale Vol 1, MS p 346a; 1931. SOG MX/G 81
  4. Lingfield Heritage by Peter Gray. 1986
  5. Lingfield Heritage; Peter Gray. 1986
  6. Wiston catalogue MS 2419, 2420
  7. Surrey R.O; 212/69/9, see letter 27 April 1973 to Eric Linfield from Surrey County Archivist

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