Henry Dickinson
of Everly, Suffield, and Hilla Green, co. York, d. 1738.

Date of birth or baptism: Unknown.
Place of birth or baptism: Unknown.

Date of burial: 4 March 1737[/8].
Place of burial: Hackness, co. York.
In his burial record in the Hackness parish register, Henry Dickinson's residence is given as Hilla Green [Hackness PRT]. In his will (below), he is Henry Dickinson of Suffield, but in the notice of probate of the will, he is Henry Dickinson of Hilla Green.

Father: Unknown.
Mother: Unknown.

Spouse: Elizabeth (Wrenny?), bur. Hackness, 29 June 1750.
[Hackness PRT] As shown in his will, Henry Dickinson's wife was named Elizabeth. She may have been the Elizabeth Wrenny who married a Henry Dickinson at Hutton Bushel on 9 November 1703. This is discussed further below, where a possible earlier wife is indicated.

[Hackness PRT; will of Henry Dickinson, transcribed below]

William Dickinson, bp. 1704×5, bur. Hackness, 2 April 1767;
m. Hackness, 24 April 1729, Mary Ward.
[Hackness PRT] See the discussion below.

Henry Dickinson, bp. Hackness, 22 August 1708, bur. there 29 January 1776;
m. Harwood Dale, 21 October 1740,
Elizabeth Craven, bp. Hutton Bushel, 9 September 1720, bur. Hackness, 11 March 1780.

Mary Dickinson (twin), bp. Hackness, 6 August 1711, bur. there 4 April 1718.
The parish registers show Mary's burial on 4 April 1718, but the bishop's transcripts show the event as a baptism of another Mary.

Elizabeth Dickinson (twin), bp. Hackness, 6 August 1711, bur. there 2 June 1712.

Will of Henry Dickinson, dated 17 December 1737, proved 24 March 1738/9.

In the name of God Amen December the 17th Day 1737 I Henry Dickinson of Suffield being in perfect mind and memory praise be therefore given to almighty God Do make and ordain this my present last will and Testament in Manner and Form Following, that is to say / First and principally I Commend my Soul unto the hands of almighty God hoping through the meritts Death and passion of my Saviour Jesus Christ to have Full and Free pardon and Forgiveness of all my sins and to Inherit Everlasting life and my Body I Commit to the Earth to be Decently Buried at the Discretion of my Executor hereafter named and as touching the Disposition of all Such Temporall Estate as it hath pleased almighty God to bestow upon me I Give and Dispose thereof as followeth Item I Give unto my loving wife Elizabeth Dickinson the Sume of Ten pounds if Henry Dickinson the son of Henry Dickinson Dye before his mother Elizabeth Dickinson she shall have Five pounds by his Executor Item I Give unto my son William Dickinson the sume of two shillings and six pence Item I Give unto my Son William son and Daughter the sume of Twelve pence a piece to Each of them For a legacy to them Both Item I Give unto my wife Elizabeth a Bed Stead and Bedding belonging to it all the rest and residue of my personall Estate Goods and Chattles movable and unmoveable whatsoever I Do Give and Bequeath unto my loving son Henry Dickinson Full and sole Executor of this my last will and Testament I will that my Debts and Funerall Charges shall be paid and Discharged by my Executor here named Witness my hand Henry Dicknson his Mark, Henry Estill John Baxter William Dove This will passed the seal the 24th Day of March 1738 [PCY 85: 402, FHL film #99,705] The will of Henry Dickinson of Hilla Green was proved on 24 March 1738[/9] by his son Henry Dickinson, sole executor [Dickering Act Book, FHL film #100,033].

The will of Henry Dickinson

As noted above, the will of Henry Dickinson of Suffield or Hilla Green names his wife Elizabeth and two sons, William Dickinson and Henry Dickinson. It also mentions a Henry Dickinson, son of Henry and Elizabeth Dickinson, where from the (somewhat unclear) wording it appears that the latter two were not the same as the testator and his wife. This leaves us with the problem of adequately identifying these Henry Dickinsons. To facilitate the discussion, let us apply labels to the Henry and Elizabeth Dickinsons who appear in this will. Let Henry (1) denote the testator, let Elizabeth (1) denote his wife, and let Henry (2) denote the son and executor of the testator. Let Henry (4), Henry (3), and Elizabeth (2) denote (respectively) the son, father, and mother mentioned in the following words of the will: "... if Henry Dickinson the son of Henry Dickinson Dye before his mother Elizabeth Dickinson ..." The question before us here is which, if any, of Henry (1,2,3,4) should be indentified as the same person. There seem to be three possibilities here. At one extreme, it could be the case that there are four distinct Henry Dickinsons here. At the other extreme, we could assume that the testator referred to himself in the third person in the reference to Henry (3), in which case we would have Henry (1) = Henry (3), Henry (2) = Henry (4), and Elizabeth (1) = Elizabeth (2). The other possibility is that Henry (2) and Henry (3) were the same person, which would make Henry (4) the grandson of the testator.

All three of these scenarios have their problems. If there were four distinct Henry Dickinsons, then the obvious question would be to ask where these Henry Dickinsons appear in other records. For the four decades prior to the will of Henry (1), only one baptism of a Henry Dickinson son of Henry has been found, the baptism of Henry, son of Henry Dickinson of Everley on 22 August 1708 at Hackness. Following the burial of the testator Henry (1) at Hackness of 4 March 1737/8, the records seem to show only one Henry Dickinson in the parish of Hackness or nearby: Henry Dickinson of Hilla Green was married to Elizabeth Craven at both Harwood Dale and Hackness in 1740, and had a son William baptized at Hackness in 1741, and a daughter Mary baptized there in 1746 (the place of residence being given as Hilla Green in both entries). This was almost certainly Henry (2) Dickinson, the son and executor of Henry (1). Of a distinct Henry (3) and Henry (4) there is no trace.

More attractive is the scenario in which there are only two different Henry Dickinsons mentioned in the will. It eliminates the coincidence of two Henrys each with a wife Elizabeth and a son Henry. It also fits very well with the evidence of the parish registers of Hackness. The obvious problem with this scenario is that the wording of the will itself speaks against it. If this interpretation were correct, we would expect the will to say "my son" or "son of me the said Henry" instead of "son of Henry".

This leaves the third scenario, in which Henry (4) is the grandson of the testator. He is not identified as such in the will, but wills sometimes mention grandchildren without giving the relationship. Here again the problem is the silence of the other records. For this scenario to be true, we need to assume that before his marriage to Elizabeth Craven, Henry (2) was married to another Elizabeth, who died in or before 1740, by whom he had a son Henry, but that his earlier marriage, his wife's burial, and his son's baptism were all either missed in the records, or occurred in a more distant parish.

Of these scenarios, I consider it unlikely that there were four different Henrys. I am undecided which of the other two scenarios is more likely.

The possible earlier history of Henry Dickinson

Determining the earlier history of Henry Dickinson of Hilla Green is also hindered by problems of identification. From 1690 until the burial of Henry Dickinson in 1738, the Hackness parish registers show the following entries in which a Henry Dickinson appears [Hackness PRT, Hackness BT]:

In most cases, the biship's transcripts differ by leaving out the place of residence. However, there exist serious differences between the published parish register transcripts and the bishop's transcripts in two cases. In one of these there is a conflict regarding the residence, and in the other case, more importantly, a burial in the parish registers is given as a baptism in the bishop's transcripts. Since the residence in the 1702 baptism fits well with the residence in the parish register transcript of the 1704 baptism, and since the 1718 would fit better with the other records as a burial, I have accepted the parish register transcripts as being more likely correct.

Another nearby parish which shows signs of a Henry Dickinson in the early 1700's is the parish of Hutton Bushel. This is also noteworthy because the entries include the marriage of a Henry Dickinson with an Elizabeth. The registers of Hutton Bushel show the following entries involving a Henry Dickinson in the same period [Hutton Bushel PRT, Hutton Bushel BT]:

Here, the most notable difference is the surname of the bride in the 1703 marriage. The quality of the Hutton Bushel parish register transcripts is not that high, so I accept the reading of the bishop's transcripts as being correct, Wrenny or Renny being a name that appeared in the area.

Since Henry Dickinson of Sharpgate Foot and Henry Dickinson of Ayton both had sons named William baptized three weeks apart, they were different men, so there are least two different Henry Dickinsons in these records. But how many are there? There are several different residences listed for the fathers, but we already know that the elder Henry Dickinson of Hilla Green called himself "of Suffield" in his will. His grandson William Dickinson lived in the parish of Everley [see the page of the younger Henry Dickinson of Hilla Green]. Thus, since Henry (1) had a son named Henry, and the 1708 baptism of a Henry son of Henry Dickinson of Everley is the only candidate that we have for the baptism of Henry (2), it is reasonable to conclude that the Henry Dickinson of Everley who appears as a father in the Hackness registers during the period 1708-12 was the same person as Henry (1) Dickinson of Hilla Green.

The two obvious candidates for the husband of Elizabeth Wrenny would be Henry Dickinson of Ayton and Henry Dickinson of Sharpgate Foot. Since the latter had children baptized both before and after the marriage of Elizabeth Wrenny, he makes a less likely candidate, so Elizabeth Wrenny's husband was probably Henry Dickinson of Ayton, probably the same man who had been earlier married to Rachel Maddison.

According to his will Henry (1) Dickinson had a son named William who in turn had a son and daughter. This is an excellent match with the following entries in the Hackness register (and BT's), the only entries in the Hackness registers between 1700 and 1770 which involve a William Dickinson as a husband or father [Hackness PRT, Hackness BT]:

Of course, Mary had not yet been born at the time of the will, so at that time William had a son and a daughter, agreeing exactly with the will. Either the 26 December 1704 baptism at Hackness or the 14 January 1704/5 baptism at Hutton Bushel would fit well for this William Dickinson, and one of these was probably the baptism of the William Dickinson who married Mary Ward. This leaves us with two scenarios:

Scenario 1: Henry Dickinson of Hilla Green was the same person as Henry Dickinson of Ayton. In this case he would have had an earlier wife, Rachel Maddison and a son George who died as an infant, and his second wife Elizabeth Wrenny would be the mother of his later children.

Scenario 2: Henry Dickinson of Hilla Green was the same person as Henry Dickinson of Sharpgate Foot. In this case he would have had an additional daughter Mary who died young, and the maiden name of his wife Elizabeth would remain unknown.

Scenario 2 would have the advantage that his son William would be baptized in the same parish as his other children. The advantage of Scenario 1 is that Henry Dickinson of Ayton was married to a woman of the correct first name. Without further evidence, it does not seem possible to decide which of these scenarios is correct. In either case, there do not seem to be any good clues regarding the parentage of Henry Dickinson of Hilla Green.

Reference abbreviations

Hackness BT = Bishop's transcripts of Hackness, co. York, FHL film #919198.

Hackness PRT = Charles Johnstone and Emily J. Hart, The register of the parish of Hackness, Co. York, 1557-1783 (Yorkshire Parish Register Society, 25).

Hutton Bushel BT = Bishop's transcripts of Hutton Bushel, co. York, FHL film #990,790.

Hutton Bushel PRT = Parish register transcripts of Hutton Bushel, co. York, FHL film #558,353.

PCY = Prerogative and Exchequer Court of the Archbiship of York.

Compiled by Stewart Baldwin

First uploaded 13 May 2011.