John Flower

Thanks to some excellent research by Jan Walker on the Flowers, a lot more is now known about this family. They have been a difficult family to research because John is the family name and every set of siblings born to the family included a John, sometimes more than one i.e. John The Elder and John The Younger; John Senior and John Junior, which has caused me much head scratching. Now we are in a position to try and sort them out!

A Member of the Worton Flower Family Moves to Chitterne

The first John Flower to come to Chitterne was the eldest son (John Senior) of John The Younger of Worton (c1480 - 1547) and his wife Agnes Gregory. John Senior came to Chitterne and leased lands and buildings in both parishes in 1552-54, while his brother, John Junior, inherited the Worton Farm. John Senior leased Milbournes Court in Chitterne All Saints and Morgan's in Chitterne St Mary, both were described at the time as Manors, and both were part of the Duchy of Lancaster.

John Flower of Chitterne

This John Flower (Senior), whom we will call John of Chitterne, married Mabel Gryme of Stroudwater, Gloucestershire and took up residence in the house formerly owned by the Milbourne family. John of Chitterne and Mabel had no children who survived. In 1588 John contributed £25 to the fund for the defence of the country against the Spanish Armada. John died in 1592 and left his Chitterne farms to his nephew John Flower, the son of his brother Thomas, and in default of heirs to John, son of his brother John of Worton.

The Executors of the Will Complain

After John of Chitterne's death his executors, his brother Thomas and nephew John, suspected Roger Hillier, John of Chitterne's trusted Bailiff, of deception and conspiring with John of Worton, and Maud Hale, his servant, of stealing some of his goods. The accused denied the charges, and in 1600 John Flower the heir died leaving the chitterne inheritance to his 9 year-old son Edward.

John Flower, son of John Flower the Brother, has an Interest in Chitterne

John Flower, son of John Flower of Chitterne's brother John, died in 1614 and his will mentions Chitterne estates held of Henry, Lord Pawlett, the lord of the Manor. It seems that John of Chitterne gave some rights to his Chitterne estates to both his nephews in 1582, when John (son of Thomas), his eventual heir married Constance Goddard. The estates mentioned in the will of 1614 are Piper's and one virgate of land rented by John Attwood's family, Morgan's Hold rented by William Tyneburie, and Rowleaze, with half a virgate of land, rented by John Hayter. This branch of the Flowers continued with John Flower his son, who died in 1624, and John Flower, grandson, who was 2 years, 11 months and 2 days old in 1624.

Edward Flower Loses his Inheritance through Gambling

Meanwhile, having reached an age to inherit, Edward Flower became embroiled in numerous lawsuits as a result of debts contracted from illegal gaming, according to his younger brother George, who tried to help his brother. To raise money Edward sold his Chitterne holdings to John Aprice in 1619 for £100 per annum, which rent he later promised to his brother George in return for his help. But in about 1625 Edward and John Aprice conspired together and sold the holdings to Sir James Ley, Earl of Marlborough, to be held in the name of Mathew Ley, the Earl's brother, who did not honour the agreement. As a result, after the death of John Aprice in 1629 Edward was arrested with debts of £200 and spent two years in Fisherton Anger gaol. In 1631, whilst still a prisoner, Edward brought an action against the new Earl of Marlborough (James Ley's son Henry), Mathew Ley, and the executor of John Aprice's will, asking that the agreement be honoured and the money used to pay off his debts. This the Earl and his brother agreed to, but John Aprice's executor said his estate was not sufficient to pay all his debts and legacies.

More John Flowers

The name Flower pops up in various records concerning Chitterne throughout most of the 18th century. Yet another descendant called John Flower we find was one of the appointees of churchwardens in 1750. Maybe this was the gentleman who married Margaret Peirce of Boyton in 1744, according to the records of Bishop's Marriage Bonds. He was a husbandman aged 38 and she a spinster aged 40. The very last mention of the family so far found occurs in the Glebe Terriers, which records Jonathan Flower as proprietor and occupier of tithings in 1784.


A barn at Chitterne Ansty, 2 miles outside Chitterne, is known as Flower's Field Barn and marked as such on the Ordnance Survey map; it was converted for residential use in 2004.

I am indebted to Don Hickman for the following light-hearted story about some other Flowers of London, which he received in an email from Spain:

“The Flower name had puzzled me for years; cousins had imagined them to be Wiltshire people. Wrong! I finally located my fourth great-grandfather in Covent Garden, London. John Flower was a timber merchant, born in 1727 and died in 1780. He married Anne Hine at St. Ann’s, Soho in 1768 and the couple produced at least six children and a wicked sense of humour. The five girls were named, Gilly [1768], Anne [1770], Sarah [1771], Wall [1776] and Mary Ann in 1778. They also had a son in 1773 and named the poor lad Colly.”
Don adds: "He was going to be called John John Junior, but they thought of you Sue, and all the future historians so named him, Colly Latimer Flower. Apparently he married a Rebecca Block. The question is did Wall Flower ever marry?"

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