John Sevenocke

John Sevenocke, a "serf of the lord," was the son of John Sevenocke. Burton W. Spears claimed that the Sevenockes are a unique family: "Finally, while royal descents of colonial Americans are relatively common, documented descents from families of medieval serfs, at the opposite end of the social spectrum, are extremely rare. Robin Bush has been unable to trace a single other one in American genealogical literature." To clarify, this does not mean that Johanna Sevenocke's colonial descendants were the only ones who were descendants of serfs, but they are the only ones known to these researchers to have been reliably traced back into the Middle Ages.
John succeeded to his father's lands in Pitminster and Blagdon in 1519-20, both in Somerset, England and South Trendle in Pitminster in 1521-2. In 1521-2, he also paid for the marriages of his daughters, Johanna and Richarda.

John's children are:

  1. Johanna Sevenocke, of marriageable age in 1521-2 (her father having paid for her marriage at that date), married 1) Nicholas Gaylard (entered in 1540-1 for 2 messuages and 2 ferlings of bondland, 2 acres of overland in Smalecrofte, and an acre in Lackemede in South Trendle, Pitminster, Somerset, England, "late of John Sevenock," with Nicholas "first fined for 1 acre of bondland called le Gore in the said tithing, to attract the rest of said land," bur. 8 Apr 1546 in Pitminster, Somerset, England, will dated 25 Mar 1546 and proved 8 Apr 1546) and 2) Giles Alvyn or Alwyn (will dated 4 May 1567 and proved 17 Aug 1572), called a serf of the lord when she and Nicholas Gaylard are listed in a land transaction together in 1526-7 in Poundisford Hundred, Somerset, England, listed in a damaged 1530-1 record in Poundisford along with "John Sevenock, serf of the lord,"  and her husband "Nicholas Gaillard," certainly the woman in a badly damaged record in 1547-8 that indicated that lands "late of John Sevenocke" had been granted to her by "Nicholas, her late husband," granted lands to sons Hugh and Christopher Gaylerd in 1551 and Edmund, Hugh, and Christopher in 1572 (with conditions that provided for her, her second husband, and other of her children), will dated 29 Aug 1572 and proved 31 Aug 1572.
  2. Richarda Sevenocke, of marriageable age in 1521-2 (her father having paid for her marriage at that date), married -- -- (her husband's name is not known).


  1. Lea, J. Henry and Hutchinson, J. R., "Clues from English Archives Contributary to American Genealogy," The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, Vol. 41, Jul 1910, pgs. 183-191 (pgs. 183-190 inclusive).


Records related to the Hugh and Alice Gaylard family but not copied below due to copyright considerations:

  1. Spear, Burton W., Search for the Passengers of the Mary & John, 1630, Vol. 27, New Ancestral Discoveries, Part 3, Toledo, OH: The Mary & John Clearing House, 1999, pgs. 63-82 73-75.

The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record

Contributory to American Genealogy.
By J. Henry Lea and J. R. Hutchinson.
(Continued from Vol. XLI, p. 82, of The Record.)
The 19th day of April, 1634, I Joan Patten of Crewkerne, co. Somerset, being weake of bodie, do make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner and form following: I give to every one of my brothers twenty shillings apiece; to my sister Sarah my best gown, and to every of her children twelve pence; to my sister Elizabeth twenty marks; to William Gaylard in New England five pounds to be bestowed for him as my executor shall think fit; to Richard Pore forty shillings; to Giles Browne twenty shillings; to Henrie Brooke twenty shillings; to the widow Arundell five shillings; and all the rest of my goods I give to my sister, whom I do make sole executrix of this my will. Memo that if it be so devised and expressed by my father's last will that my portion given (by) my father shall after my decease be equally divided between my sisters Marie and Elizabeth, then the twenty marks before given to my sister Elizabeth shall cease and not be paid. Memo also that Marie the sister of Joan Patten was nominated by the said Joan for her executrix. Witnesses: John Bull, Elizabeth Patten, widow. No Probate.
(Cons. Wells, Book 47, f. 11.)

The above most interesting will serves to give us a clue to an important family of Pitminster, in the County of Somerset, of which the founders (so far as at present known) were Nicholas Gayler (i. e., Gaylord) and Joan, his wife (afterwards married to Giles Alwyn), whose wills follow, supplying the children of Nicholas, whose names he very inconsiderately omitted in his own will.

Joan Patten, the testatrix, was probably a daughter of one of the five sons Christopher, Hugh, William, John or Edmund, thus obtained but, as none of their wills have been discovered, it is, from the present view-point, impossible to say which. It seems evident that the William named in her will was that William of Dorchester, Mass., who died in 1673, aged nearly 88 years, and could not, therefore, have been her brother as both the putative parents had long been dead in 1585, and therefore he and his brother John, also of Dorchester, were probably her nephews. John was probably dead at the time of the making of her will (the last mention of him in our records being 1632), which accounts for his omission and strengthens the probability of the connection. Hugh Gaylord, of whom later, who remained in England but whose daughter Alice, wife of Richard Treat, came to America, could not for similar reasons of age, have been the brother Hugh of the will, but must also have been a nephew and probably a brother of the Dorchester emigrants. A brief sketch of what is known of these three may be of interest to the reader.

William Galler (as he signs himself in the Dorchester records) was a deacon at the gathering of the Church in Plymouth, England, in 1630. He came in the Alary & John the same year and made application for admission as Freeman, 19 October following, being admitted 18 May, 1631. He was Representative for Dorchester, 1635, 1636 and 1638. Removed to Windsor, Conn., and was Representative from that place for nearly 40* semi-annual sessions to 1664, and died 20 July, 1673, in his 88th year.

* Savage, II, 238; Stiles' Hist. Windsor, II, 278; Hibbard's Hist. Goshen, Conn., 452.

John Gaylord of Dorchester, Mass., brother of the above, was chosen by the town in 1632 to meet the Court of Assistance before any system of Representatives had been formed. His name does not occur again and he probably died soon after, corroboration of which is found in his omission from Joan Patten's will.*

Hugh Gaylaud of Pitminster, co. Somerset, in 1573 held lands in Poundisford, Smalecross and Lakemead in the Tything of South Trendle (now the parish of Trull), late of Nicholas Gaylerd, and held lands in Southgrove, in said tything, by surrender of Johane, widow of said Nicholas, for his residence. On 4 October, 1608, he had surrendered the close called Smalrest (sic, but see above), in the tything aforesaid, to his son George Gaylard. His daughter Alice was baptized at Pitminster, 10 May, 1594, and married there, 27 April, 1615, Richard Trott (Treat), and came to America with her husband and their nine surviving children in 1630.
They settled at Dorchester but soon removed to Wethersfield, Conn. Hugh Gaylord died at Pitminster and was buried there 21 October, 1614, His will, deposited in the Archdeaconry of Taunton, has unfortunately perished.

* Savage, II, 238.
Court Rolls, Manor of Taunton Deane, Somst.
Treat Genealogy, pp. q, 18, 26.
Recorded in Calendars there, File 1614, No. 110.

Will of Nicholas Gayler of Pytmyster, (co. Somerset), dated 25 March, 1546. Being sick of bodie. My bodie to the holie sepulture of Pytmyster. Maintenance of the Church there viijd. Mayntenance of our Ladie service there viijd. To the light before the sacrament of the Aulter viijd. To the High Cross light viijd. To the sepulture light viijd., to the Torches viijd, and to the Belles viijd. I give to my ghostly father Sir Thomas Bicknam, to pray for me, xijd. I am in debte to John Parson of Pitmister xijs. xiijd., to Richard File of Trull iijs. iiijd., to William Finche of Wells vjs. viijd., to a thatcher of Wells iiijd., to John Spursaie of Pitmister xiijd., to John Shute of Trull vijs., and to John Morcombe of Trull vjs. viijd. I make Johan Gayler my wife my executrix of all my goods. Witnesses: Sir Thomas Bicknam, John Parson, John Durston. Proved 8 April, 1546.
(Arch. Taunton, Book I, f. 349.)

Will of Joan Alvyn of Pitmister, (co. Somerset), dated 29 August, 1572. To be buried in the churchyard at Pitmister. To Christopher my son 6-13-4. To William Gaylard my son a cow called Culver. To Mary Gaylard, daughter of William Gaylard, a cow called Tyttymus, the same to remain in the kepinge of Robert Manlye to the use and profit of the said Mary so long as he shall think good. To Elizabeth Gaylard, daughter of William Gaylard, a yeo shepe. To John my son
20. To Elizabeth my daughter 20. To Mary my daughter 20, to be paid by Edmund my son. Residue to Hugh my son, whom executor. Supervisors: William Palmer and John Ivery. Witnesses: Robert Manley, Robert Baull, Henry Rewe. Proved 31 August, 1572.                                                                                                                                                                               (Taunton Wills, Book V, f. 13.)

Will of Giles Alvyn of Pitmister, (co. Somerset), dated 4 May, 1567. To Edmund Gaylard
5. To John Gaylard 5. To Christopher Gaylard 40s. To Elizabeth Gaylard 8-6-8. To Mary Gaylard 8-6-8. To Hugh Gaylard 3-6-8. To Elizabeth and Mary Gaylard, children of William Gaylard, 4d. each. To John Luddon, Christopher, Roger, Elizabeth and Margerie, children of Hugh Luddon, 4d. each. To Robert White, William, George, Hugh, Johan, Elizabeth and Margaret, children of William White, 4d. each. To the children of Robert Lidden 4d. each. To the children of Thomas Lidden 4d. each. To every of my brothers and sisters 4d. To Andrew Howdon 4d. Residue to Johan my wife, whom executrix. Supervisors: John Iverie and Henry Rewe. Witnesses: John Iverie, Robert Ball, Henry Rewe. Proved 17 August, 1572.
(Taunton Wills, Book V, f. 33.)

Will of Harrie Vildue of Henton George (i. e. Hinton St. George), (co. Somerset), dated 2 June, 1546, witnessed by Robert Gaylard.
(Taunton Wills, Book I, f. 377.)

Will of Alice Hanninge of Fourland in the parish of Crewkerne, (co. Somerset), widow, dated 30 Oct., 1559. To Robert Gaylard a yeow and a platter.                                                                                                                                                                                           (Taunton Wills, Book III, f 149.)

Will of Antonie Gailerd of Langford Budfield, (co. Somerset), dated 25 Dec, 1565. To my son Nicholas I give my best cote. Residue to Julian my wife and Jone my daughter, whom executors. Witnesses: none. Proved 20 Feb., 1565-6.
(Taunton Wills, Book IV, f. 125.)

Will of John Gailerd of Stocklinch Mawdlen, (co. Somerset), dated 13 August, 7 Eliz. To John my son my best wean and wholes. To Margaret my daughter a cow called Redie, with a white patch in the buttock, and a crock of brass with long leggs. To Agnes my daughter a brazen crock and a potenger. To John Bremell v pounds of wull. Residue to Alice my wife, whom executrix. Witnesses: Nicholas Phillips, parson, Robert Jefferie, John Patterd, John Raynall. Proved 19 April, 1566.
(Taunton Wills, Book IV, f. 142.)

Will of Anthony Gaylard of Dillington in the parish of Ilmister, (co. Somerset), dated 10 May, 1572. Being sick in bodie. To be buried in the churchyard of Ilmister. To Margaret my daughter a cow and a heifer of twelve months old. To everie of of my children, that is to sale, to John Gaylard, Robert, William, Mary and Jone, 20s. apiece at their several ages of twenty years. Poor of Ilmister i2d. Residue to Jone my wife, whom executrix. Witnesses: Robert House, John Gaylard. Proved 18 May, 1573, by the executrix.                                                (Wells Wills, Book 17, f. 106.)

Will of Alice Chaplin of Draiton, (co. Somerset), widow, dated 23 April, 1576. To John Gaylard my son two acres of wheat. To Jane Gaylard, daughter of said John, a sucking calf. Legacies to Thomas Salwey my son, Jone Salway my daughter, and Margaret my daughter. Residue to Christian my daughter, whom executrix. Overseers: Thomas Hawker, Roger Roceter and William Doleman. Witnesses: Thomas Hawker, Roger Rosseter, William Doleman, Edmund Daw, John Daw, Thomas Ball, John Langedon, curate of Draiton. Proved 8 May, 1576.
(Taunton Wills, Book V, f. 247.)

Will of John Skriven of Dillington in the parish of Ilmister, (co. Somerset), dated 6 Feb., 1579-80, witnessed by Robert Gaylord. (Wells Wills, Book 19, f. 88.)

Will of William James of Furland in the parish of Crewkerne, (co. Somerset), dated 14 April, 1581, witnessed by Geffrye Gallard.
(Taunton Wills, Book VI, f. 25.)

Will of Sir Thomas Stucky, clerk, parson of Stocklynch Ottersey, (co. Somerset), dated 27 June, 15S1. To Agnes Gaylard a platter. (Taunton Wills, Book VI, f. 43.)

Will of John Haninge of Crookerne, (co. Somerset), dated 15 Oct., 1581. To my brother in law Jefferie Gailerd los.
(Taunton Wills, Book VI, f. 136.)

Will of John Gaylard of Draiton, (co. Somerset), dated 10 Nov., 1587. Being sick of bodie. To the church 2s. To the poor men's box 6d. To my daughter Anne my great brazen panne and a bandise. To Henry my son my mault mill. To my son John my pair of lumbes with all things thereto belonging. Rest to Mary my wife, whom executrix. Witnesses: Richard Bettie, curate, William Baker. Proved 13 Jan., 1587-8.
(Taunton Wills, Book VII, f. 78.)

The will nuncupative of Roger Geylard late of Drayton, (co. Somerset), made the 1st day of Februarie, 1622-3. I give to my daughter Elizabeth
40, my second best bed, and a malt gurnard; to my daughter Alice 6s. 8d.; to her children 3s. 4d.; and my will is that Samuel Geylard shall have the youse of the heifer I gave to Roger Geylard, son of Samuel Geylard. The rest of my goods I give to my wife and do make her executrix. Witnesses: Thomas Kingdon, Joan England, Edith Gaylard. Proved 24 April, 1623, by the executrix (not named). Sureties with the executrix: John Anneley of Curry Rivell, butcher, and Edmund Dawe of Drayton, yeoman.                                              (Taunton Wills, 1623, File 39.)

I Joan Gaylard of Barrington, co. Somerset, widow, being sick of body, do make this my last will and testament: I give to the parish church of Barrington 5 s.; to the poor of the said parish 5s.; and all other my goods I give to my son John Gaylard, whom I make my executor. Dated 15 August, 1630. /Signed: Joan Gaylard./ Seal: A swan. Witnesses: John Drayton, John Berintone. Proved 5 Nov., 1630, by the executor named.
(Taunton Wills, 1630, File 47.)

I John Gailard of Draiton, co. Somerset, mason, this thirtieth day of September (no year) do make this ray last will and testament: To be buried in the churchyard of Draiton. To mine eldest son John my great brass pott and my working tools. Item I give to my second son William my middle kettle, my cupboard, and two pewter dishes, all of which goods shall remain in the custody of my wife Alice so long as she live unmarried. All the rest of my goods I give unto my wife, whom I make executrix. Witnesses: William Baker, John Stapel. Proved 2 Dec, 1630, by
the executrix.                                                                                                                                                                                  (Taunton Wills, 1630, File 74.)

The 1st day of March, 1632-3, I Agnes Gaylerd of Ile Abbotts, co. Somerset, spinster, do make and ordain this my last will and testament: I give unto my sister Elizabeth Gaylard
5 and all my goods except two bonds, which I give unto my brother Robert Gaylard, whom I make my whole executor. I give four shillings unto the poor of He Abbotts, to be distributed by John Gibbs and John Pytts. Witnesses: None. Proved 22 March, 1632-3, by the executor.                                                                                                                                                             (Taunton Wills, 1632, File 175.)

14 Nov., 1661, I Edmund Gaylard of Pitmister, co. Somerset, yeoman, being in good helth, do make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner and form following: I give to the poor of Pitmister ten shillings. [To my daughter Mary Gaylard
200 to be paid after my surrender of my two farthing-lands in the Tything of South Trendel in the Hundred of Pounsford. To Martha Gaylard my daughter 120. To Agnes Gaylard my daughter 100, to be paid within two years after my surrender of the said lands, which lands I have surrendered unto my son in law Joseph Stoden according to the custom of the Manor of Taunton and Taunton Dean, together with certain overlands, upon condition that he shall pay all my debts and legacies.]* To my daughter Mary the bedstead in the old parlor. To my daughter Martha my side bedstead in the old parlor. To my daughter Agnes Gaylard my little pottage pott. To my daughter Jone Sely one great chest and one coffer which Potter Sely her husband hath in his custody. To my daughter Joan's four children 40s. apiece at one and twenty. To Sarah Stodden, daughter of my son in law Joseph Stodden, 40s. at one and twenty. To Sarah Sely and Sarah Stodden one puter (pewter) dish apiece. The residue of my goods I give unto Joseph Stodden, my son in law, whom I appoint executor, and my brother George Gaylard and John Durston to be overseers. /Signed: Edmund Gaylard./ Witnesses: John Hawkritch, William Poole. Proved 18 April, 1663, by the executor.                            (Taunton Wills, 1663, File 93.)

* The portion in brackets is crossed out of the original.

9 September, 1665, I George Gaylard of Pitmister, co. Somerset, yeoman, being in good health, do make and ordain this my last will and testament: I give unto my son John threescore pounds, to be paid by my son George after the land comes into his hand. I make my wife Elizabeth executor. I give unto my son George four pound a year to be paid by my wife Elizabeth during her life out of the whome {home) living. I give to my son Joseph the low bed and bedstead in the kitchin chamber. I appoint ten acres that was Babb's, and ten that is Luscombe Hill, to be let out for two years. I desire George Staddier and John Streete to be overseers. /Signed: Georg Gaylard./ Witnesses: Richard Booth, Anthony Cade. Proved 1 June, 1667, by the executrix.                                                                                                           (Taunton Wills. 1667, File 82.)

19 August, 1673, I Thomas Gaylard of Chaffcombe, co. Somerset, being sick and weak of body, do make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner and form following: First I bequeath my body to the christian burial in Chaffcombe. I give to my wife Elizabeth my bed and bedstead; to my son Elias 10s.; and to my son John Gaylard, to Thomas Gaylard, and to Edith Jennings 12d. apiece. All the rest of my goods I give to my son Henry Gaylard, whom I make my only executor. And my pleasure is that my wife Elizabeth, while she keeps herself in my name, shall have the use of certain {specified) household stuff. /Signed: Thom: Gaylard./ Witnesses: Elias Gyllett, John James, Hananell Palmer. Seal: A talbot or hound courant. No Probate. Inventory taken 23 August, 1675,
(Taunton Wills, 1675, File 19.)

The last of October, 1689, Samuel Gaylard, whilst he lived of the parish of Drayton, co. Somerset, made his last will nuncupative in these and the like words: I give unto the three children which I had by a former wife tenn pounds apiece, and the residue of his goods he gave unto Grace his relict, whom he made executrix, and this was putt in writing within six days after the testator's death according to the Act in that case provided. Published in presence of John Wines, William Wines, and Susannah Gooden. Proved 23 Nov., i68g, by Grace Gaylard, relict and executrix. Inventory of the goods of Samuel Gailard of Weeck Perham in the parish of Drayton, co. Somerset, deceased, taken
13 Sept., 1689: "Item 11 acres of wheat in house and in mow,
15. Item for Lent corne 7. Item eight cowes, 19, four oxen 16-10, five horses 11-15, fourteen sheep 3, one chattle lease 1-12-6. Total of Inventory, 115-8.
(Taunton Wills, 1689, File 27.*)

* Four other Gaylard wills, calendared at Taunton, are now missing.

Drayton and Burton, Somerset: William Wylmote, in right of Agnes his wife, holdeth by copy dated 16 May, 4 and 5 Philip and Mary, one cottage containing three acres, with pasturage for two beasts, in Southmore, and one acre of wood in Drayton Wood, To hold to the said Agnes and to Roger Gaylard, son of John Gaylard, for the term of their lives, by the rent of 5s.
(Rentals and Surveys, Miscellaneous Books [Land Revenue], Vol. 255, f. 32.)

Source: Lea, J. Henry and Hutchinson, J. R., "Clues from English Archives Contributary to American Genealogy," The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, Vol. 41, Jul 1910, pgs. 183-191 (pgs. 183-190 inclusive).

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Author: Michelle A. Boyd


Last updated 2 July 2018