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Francis Byrds

1578 - 1656

Francis Byrds' signature on a
the inventory of William Ridiard 1639
Francis's signature on the inventory of William Ridiard in 1639.

Father Thomas Byrd
Mother unknown
Wife Clemens Knightley
Children Thomas, Anne, Jane, Elizabeth, Dorothy, Maria

Francis was born around the beginning of 1578 in the parish of Youlgreave, the son of Thomas (1). He may have had elder sister(s) Joan and/or Jane, and younger sister(s) Anne and/or Jane(2).

He married Clemens Knightly in Youlgreave on 16th June 1601 (3). Their first child, and only son, Thomas was born the following year (4). Next was eldest daughter Anne in 1604 (5), then Jane in 1608 (6), Elizabeth in 1610 (7), Dorothy in 1613 (8), and finally Maria in 1616 (9). Incredibly for the times, all of their children survived to adulthood.

Nothing is known of where in the parish Francis lived, or his occupation or status, until 1623 when his daughter Anne was married, and in her marriage settlement Francis is described as being a yeoman and living in Youlgreave itself (10). He was a neighbour and friend of both George Ridiard and Richard Garrat, and was overseer of George's will in 1637 (14), then executor of Richard's in 1639/40 (15). His wife Clemens died in February 1639 (11), then later the same year he appears twice as an appraiser of a probate inventory. Firstly following the death of his son Thomas's brother in law William Ridiard (16), and then a few months later, following the death of Thomas's father in law George Ridiard (17).

Francis wrote his will in June 1655 (12), requesting he be buried in the chancel in Youlgreave church near his wife, and leaving fairly sizeable individual bequests to all his children and grandchildren, as well as 40 shillings to the poor of Youlgreave. He died the following year and was buried in Youlgreave on 24th October 1656 (13).

Brief details of his children:


  1. Parish Register of All Saints, Youlgreave includes the entry:
    [February 1578] Francys Byrd the sonne of Thomas Byrd bapt xiiiio
  2. There appears to have possibly been more than one Thomas Byrd having children baptised in Youlgreave around the time Francis was born, so as yet I cannot be sure which of these children were siblings to Francis.
  3. Parish Register of All Saints, Youlgreave includes the entry:
    [June 1601] Francys Byrd & Clemens Knyghtley maryed xvio
  4. Parish Register of All Saints, Youlgreave includes the entry:
    [February 1602] Thomas Byrd the sonne of Francys bapt xiiiith
  5. Parish Register of All Saints, Youlgreave includes the entry:
    [November 1604] Anne Birdes the daughter of Francis bapt 22d
  6. Parish Register of All Saints, Youlgreave includes the entry:
    [1608] Bapt Jana fil Francisci Birdes Feb ult
  7. Parish Register of All Saints, Youlgreave includes the entry:
    [1610] Bapt Elizabetha fil Francisci Byrds Apr 3
  8. Parish Register of All Saints, Youlgreave includes the entry:
    [1613] Bapt Dorothea fil Fra: Byrds Apr 12
  9. Parish Register of All Saints, Youlgreave [Transcript by Val Neal] lists the baptism of Maria Birds, daughter of Francis, on 9th April 1616.
  10. Derbyshire Record Office holds a marriage settlement reference D258/40/36/3, dated 1623, in the archives. The catalogue entry reads:
    ASettlement upon the marriage of William eldest son of Robert Gretrax of Hopton yeoman, and Anne daughter of Francis Byrde of Youlgreave yeoman, whereby Robert, in consideration of 110, agrees with Francis that all the lands etc purchased of William Eaton, Anthony Eaton and Jane his wife, Henry Wigley and Grace his wife and John Maxfeild and Milicent his wife, and all his lands etc at Wirksworth (24 acres 3 roods) purchased from Edward Mellor shall be held viz one moiety to William and Anne for their lives, as jointure for Anne, with remainder to the heirs of their bodies and the other moiety to the use of Robert for life with remainder to William and whereas Robert holds a moiety of a messuage of 4 oxgangs of land and of 1 oxgang of demesne land in Hopton for the lives of himself, William and of Richard Gretrax, another of his sons, Robert assignes a moiety of the said property, to William and Anne for 99 years paying 12s p.a. to the King, William and Anne to have the other moiety after the death of Robert, Robert also gives to William and Anne, 4 oxen, 80 sheep and 2 horses, all his husbandry wares and utensils and half his corn and hay
  11. Parish Register of All Saints, Youlgreave includes the entry:
    [1639] Yolgrave Sepult Clementia uxor Francisci Byrds Febr. 05
  12. Contemporary PCC probate copy of the will of Francis Bird, late of Youlgrave dated 1655, proved 1657 reads:
    In the name of God Amen
    The Eighteenth Daie of June in the yeare of out Lord accor-
    -ding to the English accomp.. One Thousand Six hundred Fifty
    Five I Francis Bird Late of Yollowgreave in the County of Darbie
    Yeoman being of good and perfect health and of sound Mind & perfect
    Memorie, Praised be God for the same, doe declare and make this my last
    will and testament in Manner and forme following. First and principalie
    I bequeath and Commend my soule to Almighty God my creator, Jesus
    Christ my redeemer, and the holie ghost my Comforter. And my Bodie
    to the Earth to be buried in the Chancell at Yollowgrave aforesaid (as
    nere unto the place where Clemens my beloved wife was interred as Conve-
    -nientlie may be. Also I give and bequeath unto Thomas Bird
    My Sonne ye Indenture of Lease And all ye Messuage houses and
    Lands therein Conteyned Lying & being in Yollowgreave aforesaid which
    I tooke of Nicholas Gilbert Esquire for & dureing All ye Time & Terme
    that I have therein. Also I give and bequeath unto Jane Wife of
    Francis Hawksley Dorothy wife of John Ashton, And to my Grandchildren
    Walberg Pott and Marie Pott everie one of them Tenne pounds of Current
    Monie of England. Also I give and bequeath unto my Grandchild and
    Godsonne Francis Bird Sonne of ye said Thomas Bird Five pounds of
    Lawfull Monie of England, To be paid to him when he shall accomplish his
    age of Twentie & one yeares. Also I give and bequeath unto my Grandchildren
    Francis Hawksley sonne of my Daughter Jane, Anne [Wamsley], Elizabeth
    Twigge Children of my Daughter Elizabeth; Francis Pott Clement Pott
    John Pott, Percival Pott, And to everie other Child of my Daughter Maries
    Charles Ashton Clement Ashton [Anne Ashton] John Ashton Dorothy Ashton
    & Francis Ashton, Children of my daughter Dorothy; Clement Bird
    Elizabeth Bird, Anne Bird, Tho: Bird, Marie Bird, John Bird
    Katherine Bird Children of my sonne Tho: Bird, And to my Grandchild
    John [.it.ricks], To everie one of my said grandchildren Five pounds of Lawfull
    Monie of England. I give & bequeath to the poore of Yollowgreave Fortie
    Shillings To be distributed amongst them at the discrecon of my Executor. I
    Give & bequeath unto ye Ringers at my Buriall Tenne Shillings. Also after
    that my Debts Legacies and Funerall Expences bin discharged and paid, All
    the rest of my goods Cattle,s Chattles, Monie, and Debts unbequeathed I
    give and bequeath unto the said Thomas Bird my sonne whom I constitue
    Nominate and appoint sole executor of this my last will and Testament hope-
    -ing he will ..enelie and justlie performe the .... And I desire my loveing
    Sonne in Lawes John Pott Clerk, John Ashton and Raph Twigg to be
    Overseers hereof, And for their paines therein I give unto everit one of
    them Twentie Shillings of Currant Monie of England. And hereby I re-
    -nounce Repeall ...... and F...... all former wills Legacies and Bequeaths
    whatsoever. In Testimony whereof I have heeunto put my hand & Seale
    The daie and yeare first above written. Francis Bird ... These
    being witnesses George Samuel, Robert roberts, George Goodwin
    This will was proved at London The sixth
    day of May in the years One Thousand six hundred Fifty seaven
    Before the Judges for Probat of wills and granting Administracon
    Lawfullie authorised. By the oath of Thomas Bird the sonne and
    sole executor named therein. To whom was grannted Administracon of
    all and singular the goods Chattels and Debts of the said deceased. He
    being by Comm..ss. first sworn truelie to Administer ye same.
  13. Parish Register of All Saints, Youlgreave [Transcript by Val Neal] lists the burial of Francis Birds, on 24th October 1656.
  14. Will of George Ridiard (ref: B/C/11/George Ridiard, Youlgreave, 1637 @ LRO) states:
    "Alsoe I require my loveing neighbours Francis Birds & Richard Garratt to be the overseers".
    Francis Birds was also one of the inventory appraisers.
  15. Will of Richard Garrit (ref: B/C/11/Richard Garrit, Youlgreave, 1639/40 @ LRO) leaves the the balance of his estate ...
    "unto John Briddon of Yeolgrave ... yeoman and unto Francis Birds of Yeolgrave ... yeoman which said John Briddon and Francis Birds I doe constitute ... the sole executors"
  16. Inventory of William Rudyard (ref: B/C/11/William Rudyard, Middleton, 1639 @ LRO) was appraised by Robert Bateman, Francis Byrde, George Ridiard & Richard Roberts.
  17. Inventory of George Ridiard (ref: B/C/11/George Ridiard, Middleton, 1639 @ LRO) was appraised by Robert Bateman, Francis Birds, George Ridyard and Richard Roberts.


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