The Lin(d)fields of Suffolk – An Update


A previous article (Ref. 1), included some wills, notably those of WILLIAM LYNEFIELD, Innholder of Ipswich (1585), and SAMUEL LINDFILD (1665). Summaries of the wills of GILBERT LINDFEILD, Member of Parliament for the town (1680), and of his son, also Gilbert, “gentleman” of Whatfield in Suffolk (1692), were also included. As a result of further research in the Ipswich area, we now know considerably more about this branch of the family, and the purpose of this article is to provide an account of the new information.

Using material obtained from some of the local parish registers, we are now able to draw up a reasonable family tree. The wills show they were a wealthy and well-established family who prospered throughout the long period during which they owned the largest inn in town. They appear to have amassed considerable amounts of property, whilst marrying into some of the wealthiest families, thereby consolidating their position in local society. But the early death of GILBERT LINDFIELD in 1692 at the age of 34, without issue, brought to an end the family connection with Ipswich. The family tavern, known as the “Greyhound”. which had passed down five generations, was sold off with all his adjoining property, to raise funds for the upkeep of his widow.

Early Records

The earliest parish register entry we have for Ipswich is the marriage at St. Margaret’s of WILLIAM LYNFELD and ELIZABETH CANTERELL, which took place on 15 June 1559. This is the same William who was Innholder at the Greyhound and who made his will in 1585. In the 1568 Subsidy Return for Suffolk, he was assessed at 6 “in goodes” in the East Ward district of Ipswich. It would be intriguing to know whether it was he who purchased the Greyhound, or whether he had inherited it. In the “Petit Rents” lists of 1582, William is recorded as paying 6d “for pending the water at Caldwell.” William and Elizabeth had 5 children altogether, but only one son, GILBERT, baptised 18 October 1563, and one daughter, JOAN, baptised 16 December 1568, survived them. After his father’s death, Gilbert took over the Greyhound and the several other properties in Ipswich which his father owned.

The parish registers of St. Mary Stoke, Ipswich record a marriage between RICHARD LINGFEILD and JOHANE SMITH on 20 June 1568. Two daughters are born to them, KATHERINE, in 1569, and ALLIS, in 1575. But we have no proof of any connection with William of St. Margaret’s.

The Corporation

Many of the Ipswich Lin(d)fields were active in Corporation affairs. We know from a book of 1654 (Ref. 2), by Nathaniell Bacon, the Town Recorder for Ipswich, that various members of the Lindfield line took office. These included WILLIAM, GILBERT (died 1625), and GILBERT (MP). William Linnfeild was elected a ‘Chamberlin’ on September 8 1573; on 26 September 1575, he was elected ‘Alderman of the Guild.’ On 29 September 1581, he was elected a governor of the hospital. On 23 March, his son Gilbert (1563-1625) was elected ‘Alderman of the Guild’ and a ‘Chamberlin’ during the following September. On 29 September 1595, he was made a governor of Christ’s Hospital.

Gilbert’s grandson, Gilbert III (1621-1680), not only served on the town council for many years but represented Ipswich as its Member of Parliament from 1674 until his death six years later. His name appears several times in the Assemblies Book of the Corporation, 1659-60: for instance, on 11 August 1659, he was a member of the Committee which drew up a petition to Parliament demanding that the control of the town’s militia be transferred into local hands. On 25 February 1660, he went to London to present their petition to the Council of State. It was also agreed to send a letter to General Moncke “about the easinge of the towne of some of the forces nowe quarteringe heere… and alsoe to indeaver the obtaininge of such monies as are due to the innkeepers” for the billeting of soldiers. Undoubtedly, as the owner of the largest tavern in town, Gilbert was owed a considerable amount of money; and he probably wanted it fairly badly! On 10 May 1660, he was on another committee, their mission to organize the town’s celebrations for the restoration of Charles II. Their task included “the beautifieinge of the gallerie and crosse against the time of the proclaimacion of the kinge, and to take care to provide wine and banquettinge against that time…”

The Greyhound

The Greyhound at that time was known as ‘Le Greyhound’ and was sited in Upper Brook Street, near to the ‘Cock and Pie’ (which is still there although not in original form) and opposite the east end of Buttermarket in Ipswich town centre. So, the present ‘Greyhound’ has no connection that we know of, being sited on Henley Road, north west of the town centre.

The old inn, now vanished, was described (Ref. 3) in 1889 as “… of great importance and large extent, and it was assessed at a higher amount than the White Horse, Running Buck, and Cock and Pie, combined. It was… the largest Tavern in Ipswich… By old deeds and other evidence… it appears that this Tavern had a considerable frontage in the street and a large garden and premises behind, and there is every reason to conclude that all the premises and the entrance to them next to the Coach and Horses formed part of ‘Le Greyhound’ property” (which would make it about 200 feet long by 200 feet deep!). It was assessed at 50.”

The 1674 Hearth Tax Returns mention Gilbert Lindfield with 9 hearths in St. Mary Tower, Ipswich and ‘Miss Lindfield’ with 5 in the same parish. Who is this mysterious ‘Miss Lindfield’? In his will of 1665, SAMUEL LINDFIELD bequests to his “sister Mary Lindfild the sume of twenty shillings for her to buy a ring”, which originally made us think we had discovered her identity. But there is no record of her baptism or any mention of her in the will of Gilbert Lindfield, Samuel’s brother, which suggests a plausible alternative that she may have been their sister in law – it is worth remembering that the term ‘sister’ was often used in probate documents to designate ‘sister in law’. There is other evidence to support this theory: Samuel’s brother, John is also a named beneficiary in his will. John died in 1674, and although we have not found any record that he married, there is a marriage entry in the parish of St. Peter’s for 5 April 1675 of a STEPHEN GOODING, widower and MARY LINDFIELD, widow. This tends to suggest that Mary may have been the widow of John Lindfield.

This is all very well, but the mystery of ‘Miss Lindfield’s’ identity still remains. We can only conclude that she was BRIDGET, the 15 year old daughter of Gilbert. We know from Ogilby’s 1674 map that ‘Captain Lingfild’ also owned a house on the corner of King Street and Rose Lane, where he probably lived with his family, rather than on the premises of the Greyhound. His wife Bridget died in 1672, and bearing in mind that Gilbert took up his seat in Parliament on 3 February 1674, the Hearth Tax assessments would have been undertaken during his absence. Not surprisingly, therefore, his daughter, Bridget, as ‘head of household’ or, at least, the occupier of these premises, was listed in the returns.

According to Jack Ruffles (the leading present-day expert on Ipswich inns and taverns), the Greyhound is mentioned in records of Holy Trinity Priory Christchurch going back to the 12/13th century; and whilst the inn probably finished in about 1750, the last of the buildings at the back did not go until the 1920s/30s. The Greyhound even issued its own farthing tokens around 1670, but these are now very rare, and even ordinary ‘Ipswich farthings’ are 10 apiece! The Greyhound is marked on the Ipswich map of 1674 by J. Ogilby, as is ‘Capt. Lingfilds house’ on the corner of King Street (now St. Nicholas St/St. Peter’s St) and Rose Lane, and ‘Lingfields Hill/Mill’ to the east of the town (see map).

As was mentioned in the previous article, Gilbert III was an officer in the local militia, being Captain by 1661, and major by 1676, but we have seen no militia records as yet for further information.

The windmill shown on the 1674 map is intriguing, being sited on what is now Alexandra Park, a large exposed grassy park surrounded by houses. The east side (and north side) of Ipswich is considerably higher than the town centre (being at port/river level) and the mill would have good exposure to prevailing south west winds. Its position is immediately east of the present County Council Offices in Rope Walk and the Suffolk College. When digging foundations for St. Edmund House in 1974, two millstones were found which could have come from this mill. These stones are supposedly sited within the college grounds, but remain unseen as yet. There were other mills in the area of later vintage, for brickmaking, malting, fertilizer manufacture (this later became Fisons), and dock works. No other evidence on later maps can be found of this mill; but it is believed that the mill shown behind a view of Ipswich painted in 1753 by John Clevely (now in the Ipswich Borough Council Offices in Cornmarket) could be the same one. The Suffolk Mills Group have no further evidence than this.”

The Brownriggs

As mentioned earlier, the Ipswich Lin(d)fields married advantageously into several of the wealthier town families. Gilbert III, for instance, married BRIDGET SMYTHIER (1634-72) in 1656, the daughter of JOHN SMYTHIER, a wealthy merchant, who was also important in council affairs. A Portman of Ipswich, elected in 1640, John Smyther was born about 1580. He lived in St. Matthew’s parish, although he also owned a house in St. Nicholas parish. He was also a zealous Puritan, apparently, which must have brought him into conflict with his future son-in-law. He died in 1655, a year before Gilbert married his daughter.

The Brownrigg connection (mistakenly referred to as the ‘Browning’ family in the earlier article) originates with the marriage of Gilbert’s daughter, Bridget to JOHN BROWNRIGG at St. Margaret’s on 15 May 1684. She had three daughters, Bridget, Elizabeth and Amy, who became co-heiresses of the Willisham estates after the male heirs died. Elizabeth married LUKE LEAKE (a vicar of Offton, Nettlestead and curate of Willisham). One of their sons, also Luke Leake, took over as vicar of Offton on his father’s death. Bridget died in 1741, aged 82, having probably lived in Willisham Hall all her post-married life, John her husband having died in 1701. Willisham Hall was consumed by fire in 1934 along with the parish records, so it was fortunate that notes of the Brownriggs had been taken beforehand. A visit to Willisham and Offton churches earlier this year proved the Luke Leakes’ connections. The present church at Willisham was built 1877/78 on the foundations of the original, but Luke Leake slabs exist as external paving at the east end! The Parish Recorder for Willisham was grateful for our transcripts of the Brownriggs of Willisham as it filled a gap. The Brownriggs in Ipswich were prominent in corporation affairs, so it would appear to be a fair assumption that Bridget met John (a Willisham Brownrigg) via her family’s connections in the Corporation, just as Sarah Lindfield probably met Henry Gosnold and Gilbert (MP) met Bridget Smythier.

The Gosnolds

SARAH LINDFIELD (1623-84), sister of Gilbert III, married HENRY GOSNOLD sometime before 1648, when their eldest child, Henry was born. We have not made much headway with Sarah and Henry, as the later generations moved around. We have two Gosnold pedigrees from separate people, but with confusing differences. Henry Gosnold was a son of ANTHONY GOSNOLD of Swilland. Anthony’s brother, JOHN has a plaque in Otley Church, Suffolk; Otley was for some years the Gosnold seat. The plaque explains John’s ancestry in some depth. John was a gentleman usher to Queen Elizabeth I and King James for 26 years, and after a gentleman of the Privy Chamber to King Charles… John’s father was ROBERT GOSNOLD… whose brother, Anthony had issue including BARTHOLOMEW GOSNOLD, distinguished mariner who navigated the American coast from 1602, discovering and naming Cape Cod (where there were many fish) and Martha’s Vineyard (his daughter’s name) and helping to create the first colonial American settlement at Jamestown, Virginia. He died there in 1607.

We have done some research on ‘sailings’ to America, as during the 1630s between 14 and 21 thousand people emigrated from England to the colonies to escape religious persecution or to seek more secure lives in a world of change. ‘The Winthrop Fleet of 1630’ by CE Banks (1930), for instance, mentions Bartholomew Gosnold’s voyages from 1602 to 1607, the Pilgrim Fathers 1610, reinforced in 1611 and 1623, as well as the 1630 Winthrop Fleet of 11 ships, with approximately 400 people (150 from Suffolk, 92 from Essex). CE Banks also wrote ‘The Planters of the Commonwealth 1620-40’ (1930), but neither book mentions any Lindfields.


Plague seems to have taken its toll locally in 1548, 1585, 1603 and 1665 (in St Margaret’s, burials were at 7 a day in September; one can chart its passage: August = 29; September = 156; October = 123; November = 45; December = 26; by January it had evidently run

its course as there were only 14 that month). It is interesting to note that Samuel Lindfield made his will on 18 August 1665, and since he was only 34 at the time, it suggests the possibility that he may well have fallen victim to the plague. In Bacon’s ‘Annals’ for 1637, collections were ordered in Ipswich for the relief of Hadleigh first, and then for Bury St. Edmunds, the latter’s assizes having to be moved to Ipswich as all trading had ceased in Bury.

Other records

The Parish record microfiches often turn up some interesting items. For example, at St. Margaret’s, Ipswich 20 February 1630: ‘Abel, daughter of William Hartle. He said after it was baptised, the name should have been Mabel. It may be he meant Mirabel.’ Again at St. Margaret’s, 23 June 1660: ‘Nicholas Julian a stranger dying at the Greyhound was buried.'”

The Protestation Returns 1641/42 for Suffolk do not exist. Suffolk Record Office have searched for these in vain in the House of Lords Library. Vincent B. Redstone, one of Suffolk’s most prolific historians, has researched much in Suffolk history; in his ‘Record of Protestant Dissenters in Suffolk’ (1912), there are no Lindfield entries. Religious disputes in the 1640s culminated in the ‘Suffolk Committee for Scandalous Ministers’ (1644-46) when a lot of ministers were deprived of their living for not being Puritan enough.

Decline of Trade

Around this time, Suffolk in general and Ipswich in particular, were losing out in the sale of cloth produced in the villages and sold by the Ipswich merchants overseas. The cloth workers became particularly worried by the influx of Huguenot weavers, and with the restrictive controls of the Stuart monarchy, the overseas markets collapsed – and so did the Ipswich merchants. Clothiers of a dozen or so Suffolk towns are said to have lost over 30,000 through the bankruptcy of Ipswich merchants in the one year, 1622. Also whilst shipbuilding and allied industries flourished for a while during the Dutch Wars (1652-74), Harwich became the naval dockyard and the removal of Customs to there damaged Ipswich’s position. Not surprisingly, one of Gilbert Lindfield’s main interests as an MP was the promotion of wool and leather exports. With the silting up of the River Orwell, no vessels of any size could reach Ipswich’s quays. Sir James Thornhill wrote in 1711 of Ipswich as a town without people, having a river without water and streets without names. The decline in Ipswich fortunes could have led to a decline in the Lindfield position in society.

Gilbert IV 1658-92

Gilbert IV’s life was fairly short and uneventful, if the records are anything to go by. He was 22 when his father died, and inherited two-third’s of his father’s property, the other third going to his sister, BRIDGET who married JOHN BROWNRIGG in 1684. He married ROSE CUTBERT, who came from another very old and well-established Ipswich fami
y. They had no children, and in his will, he leaves instructions that the family tavern, the Greyhound, in the occupation of John Ryecroft, should be sold. We have not been able to find any further information about them. But it does appear that the Lin(d)field connection with Ipswich appears to have ended with this couple.

The Ipswich Branch Family Tree

1. Longshot; November 1993.

2. The Annalls of Ipswich, the Lawes, Customes and Goverment of the same; Nathaniell Bacon, 1654, reproduced in 1884 in edited form by WH Richardson.

3. Ipswich 200 years ago; H. Chamberlain (pub. 1889)

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