JOHN SEMANS the First (1465 - 1543)

Born circa 1465, Aylesbury , Bucks, England

Died 1543, Buried in Hardwick Churchyard

Married Joan (Jone), circa 1493

John and Joan had 2 children:


  • John, Born circa 1495, died 1537
  • Jone, married William Hargat.


John's actual date and place of birth is uncertain. Based on the birth dates of his family, he was likely born between 1465 and 1470, and although conjecture, it is more than likely that he was born within the Aylesbury area.

John rented land at Weedon in 1493, and farmed there for at least 50 years. Tax returns from that period indicate that John was among the more prosperous farmers in the village. John and his wife, Joan, had two children; a son, also named John, and a daughter, also named Joan. Both children survived those hard times to reach adulthood. The son however, pre-deceased his father by a few years, and in accord with the normal customs within England at that time, most of the estate of the first John then passed to his daughter's husband (William Hargat) and to his bailiff. Thus the family of John the Second was impoverished through his early death.

John the First died in 1543, and was buried in Hardwick churchyard, although the location of his grave within that yard can no longer be identified. His will was made in August 1543, and a copy survives today. It was proved on October 28th, indicating in all probability that he died in early October, 1543.

The character of John "Seyman" comes out clearly in his will. Apparently he was the type of man sought after when godfathers were required! "Every one" of his godchildren was to receive fourpence. When it is recalled that the income of a farm worker at Weedon totalled about £1 for a full year in the 1520's, the fourpence was not to be despised. His Catholic Church practices were indicated. Protestantism had yet to be established in England though King Henry VIII, had despoiled the monasteries, dismissed the pope from the English Church and assumed the headship himself, and among other things had introduced the English translation of the Bible into the parish churches. So John Seman remembers the light "afore the Sacramente", the "roode lygh”", the "High alter" of Hardwicke, dirge and mass, and a trifle for the Cathedral at Lincoln, in which diocese Hardwicke was placed.

The extent of his financial means is also indicated in the will; the sum of his inventory was £27/17/10, which in those early days was quite a substantial estate.

Transcribed copy of the Will of John Semans

In dei nominee amen. The yere of oure Lorde Godd 1543 the Xvith day of August.
I Jhon Seyman of wedon yn the Countye of Bucks. Syke of bodye & sownd of mynde make my last wyll & testamente in thys maner
Fyrste I comende my sole unto almyghtye God and to our ladye saynte Marye & to all the holye seynts and compaunye of hevyn and my boddye to be buryide in the churche yarde of the parryshe churche of our ladye of hardwyche
Item I give and bequethe to the Cathedrall churche of lyncoll iid
Item to the high alter of Hardewyche aforsyde viiid
Item to the light afore the Sacramente viiid
Item to the roode lyght vis. viiid
Item to the torchys halfe a quarter of malte
Item to the bells xxd
Item I give and bequethe into Jhon Standbryge £viii in money and in other stufe to the value of thys sume
Item to nycolas seyman vis & viiid & a quarter of barlye
Item to Jamys Seyman vis & viiid & a quarter of barlye
Item to Jhon Seyman vis & viiid & a quarter of barlye
Item to everye on(e) of my godchildren iiiid
Item I wyll that Jone my wyffe have the howse at Aylberye duryge her lyfe & if that my sone in lawe Wyllyam Hargat have a chylde by my daughter Jone I wyll that the chylde shall have the howse aforesayde durynge the tyme of the yers as yt ys contaynde in Indentures
Item I wyll diryge and masse be sayd for me & my frends twyse in the yere & to distribute and bestowe xxd at a tyme. iiis and iiiid in the hole yere
Item I will that a trentall of massys be songe or sayde for me & my freynds
The residue of my goods not bequethys I geve to Jone my wyffe and to Wyllyam Hargat my sone in lawe whom I make and ordeyn my faythfull executors to do for the helth of my sole and so performe thys my last wyll.
And Henrye Edmonds Jhon Howys Henrye Fyllyps to be overseers that thys my last wyll be performyde

Henrye Edmonde & Hugh Fytken and Alexande Chetham witnesses

Curate of Hardwyche

Proved at Aylesbury xxviiith October

Sum of Inventory £27 . 17 . 10d