Descendants of Robert BURNETT of Eryholme


14. John BURNETT

Cuthbert SMITHSON, who was a noted physician of Richmond, Yorks, died unmarried in 1650, and was buried at Middleton Tyas; his burial entry, December 10, states that he was ' Medic. Doctor peritis-simus.' His will, dated 10 Dec 1650, stated: "I Cuthbert Smithson of Richmond, Doctor of Medicine, wish my body to be buried in the church of Middleton Tyas. To the poor of that parish what my Executor, and cousin Thomas Smithson appoints. To my niece Grace Smithson £100, which her father, my brother owes me, to be paid at the discretion of my Exor. *To my nephew John BURNETT his childn* every one 20 nobles. To Mary Slinger's chn everyone 20 nobles. To Matthew Wastell and his wife's chn 20 nobles. To John Allison £10 and a little salt and 8 spoons, at discretion. To Merriall Smithson £50 and her sister Ann Wetwange £20, out of moneys my cousin Leonard S, their brother owes."
[From "Genealogical Notes & Memoirs of the Smithson Family" by George R. Smithson, London, 1906.  Chapter IV of the book is devoted to the Smithsons of Gatherly & Moulton]

The nephew John BURNETT mentioned in the will was this John BURNETT; who was in fact a "nephew-in-law", having married Cuthbert SMITHSON's niece Frances SMITHSON, eldest daughter of Christopher SMITHSON of Moulton and his wife Dorothy, nee CALVERT, in 1621.
John was the eldest son and the main beneficiary of his father's will in 1606. The will also made provision for John's 'tuition', which was placed in the hands of his uncle John BURNETT, of Dalton. This indicates that John jnr. was under 13yrs of age when the will was written - hence born after 1593. John was also the main beneficiary of his uncle John's will, which was written in 1620.

Francis ANDERSON and Frances his wife leased land in the Manor of Hurworth in 1637 to John BURNETT for 4 years. Frances , wife of Francis ANDERSON, was the former Frances WARD, who with her sister Anne WARD had inherited a moiety of the manor from their grandfather John WARD in 1631.
[From: 'Parishes: Hurworth', A History of the County of Durham: Volume 3 (1928), pp. 285-293. Date accessed: 14 November 2007.]

John BURNETT left a will dated 13 Sep 1660 at Hurworth. The beneficiaries, in order of mention, were:
Wife Frances - house in Hurworth and all lands, tenements and hereditaments, with their appurtenances, in Hurworth, in lieu of her "thirds".
Also £150, plus a further £20 for 'expenses' immediately after testator's death.
Son John & Frances his wife - £100 owed by John CHAYTOR Esq., deceased
Son William - £100
Son Thomas - £50
Son George - £120 plus interest in "West Field" farmed under John CALVERLEY Esq. [in addition to what testator had already given him]
Daughter Frances & Christopher AISKWITH [sic] her husband - £50 which remains unpaid [of her dowry?]
Youngest daughters Meryall & Mary - £175 each
Sisters [sic] Winifred BURNET, Meryall RICHARDSON, Elizabeth MUSGRAVE, Grace CONYERS & Eleanor WASTELL - 10/- each to buy rings
Brother William BURNETT [supervisor] - 10/- to buy a ring
Brother [sic] Thomas SMITHSON [supervisor] - 10/- to buy a ring

John BURNETT signed.
Witnesses were: Leonard SMITHSON (signed) & John CONYERS (mark)

The SMITHSON family into which John BURNETT married were recusant Roman Catholics, which may explain why no record has been found of the baptism of any of the children mentioned in the will. However, there are two baptisms which may be attributed to John & Frances BURNETT but of children whose names do not appear in the will. The parish register for Croft on Tees has the baptism of "Dorothy d. John BURNETT the youngest" on 30 Nov 1623 and the parish register for Hurworth has the baptism of "Rob. BURNET f. John et Franc." on 23 Jun 1650. If these two individuals were children of John BURNETT of Hurworth and his wife Frances, nee SMITHSON, then they probably died before the date of the will.

The three beneficiaries named as "brother" Thomas SMITHSON and "sisters" Ellener WASTELL and Grace CONYERS were in fact the testator's brother in law and sisters in law - his wife's siblings [see notes for wife Frances SMITHSON]. Similarly the other three 'sisters' named as beneficiaries were almost certainly sisters in law. The testator's father, Robert BURNETT, left a will dated 31 Aug 1606 which did not mention daughters named Winifred, Meryall or Elizabeth. Sister [in law] Winifred BURNETT was therefore probably the wife of one of the testator's brothers. A William BARNETT married Winifred MARSHALL in 1625 at Aspeden, Hertfordshire - possibly the marriage of the testator's youngest brother. A Merioll [sic] SMITHSON married William RICHARDSON on 23 Oct 1656 at St. Nicholas church in the City of Durham. This was probably the second sister [in law] mentioned in the will - though she was apparently not a sibling of the testator's wife. The third sister [in law] mentioned, Elizabeth MUSGRAVE, has not yet been identified.


Eldest daughter of Christopher SMITHSON and his wife Dorothy, nee CALVERT, Frances married John BURNETT of Hurworth in c1621. She had two brothers, George and Thomas SMITHSON, and four sisters; Mary who married John SLINGER, Elizabeth who married John MERITON, Helen/Ellen who married Matthew WASTELL and Grace who married Miles CONYERS.

28. Dorothy BURNETT

It is highly likely that this individual was the Dorothy "daughter of John Burnett the youngest" baptised at Croft on Tees on 30 Nov 1623 and that her father was the John BURNETT of Hurworth who married Frances SMITHSON of Moulton in c1621. That being the case Dorothy died before 1661 because there was no mention of a daughter named Dorothy in the will of John BURNETT of Hurworth dated 13 Sep 1660. A Dorothy BURNETT was buried on 25 Sep 1658 at Bolton upon Swale - probably the burial of this Dorothy. Bolton upon Swale is close to Moulton and one of Dorothy's aunts married at Bolton upon Swale.

The nuncupative will of Captain Henry WILKINSON of Forcett (N. Yorks) dated 12 Mar 1648/49 mentions Mrs. Grace SMITHSON and Mrs. Dorothy BURNETT as two of the beneficiaries.

30. Thomas BURNETT

The third son of his parents John BURNETT and Frances nee SMITHSON, Thomas was born c1635 and was destined for high office.

Thomas BURNETT received his early education at the Free Grammar School in Northallerton, then, in 1651 he gained entry to Clare Hall,
Cambridge, where he had Dr. TILLOTSON as his tutor. He later moved to Christ's College, Cambridge where he became a fellow in 1657
and took his degree of MA. in 1658. He became a minister of the Church of England and, writing in both English and Latin, was the author
of several books. In 1681 he published 'Telluris Theoria Sacra', a fanciful account of the earth's structure written entirely in Latin. In 1684
he published a revised edition, 'The Sacred Theory of the Earth', written in English. The book created a great deal of interest but was considered
 of little scientific value. At about this time he gained his Doctor of Laws [LLD] degree and in 1685 was appointed master of the Charterhouse;
a large London school, originally a Carthusian monastery, and for a time a residence of the dukes of Norfolk. It was in this capacity, in 1686,
in the reign of James II, that he incited the first stand made by any society in England against the royal dispensing power and thereby prevented
the illegal admission of a papist pensioner on the Foundation of that house at the king's demand. This must have caused some consternation
within the family; his mother was the former Frances SMITHSON, a member of the SMITHSON family of Moulton and Gatherley who were
recusant Roman Catholics. Indeed Thomas BURNETT may well have been brought up as a Roman Catholic. After the revolution he was made
Chaplain to the King and Clerk of the Closet to William III, a position he held until 1692. It was during that year that he published his
'Archeologia philosophicae sive doctrina antiqua de rerum originibus", in which he interpreted the account of the Fall and Creation as an allegory,
and the work cost him his position; he was compelled to retire. Dr. BURNETT was an ingenious speculator rather than a patient enquirer and had                                             Dr. Thomas Burnett, MA, LLD
it not been for his free opinions it was generally thought that he would have become a bishop.

Most biographies of Dr. Thomas BURNETT state that he was born in or about 1635 at Croft on Tees, Yorkshire. However, it is quite likely that he was actually born at Hurworth in County Durham. His father John BURNETT was described as being of Hurworth at the time of his marriage to Frances SMITHSON in 1621 and was residing at Hurworth when he wrote his will in 1660. Nevertheless, both of Thomas' parents were buried within Croft parish church, in the north side of the chancel, as were a number of his siblings, and 1673 hearth tax returns show his brother John BURNETT with 7 hearths at Croft.

Thomas died on 27 Sep 1715 in London. He left a will, dated 17 Nov 1712 at the Charterhouse, which had the following beneficiaries:
The hospital of the Charterhouse - £100
Brother George BURNETT - £500 [sole executor]
All servants living with him at the time of his decease - one year's wages each and his 'wearing clothes' between them
Children of late brother John BURNETT and children of late sister ASKWITH - remainder of estate equally divided between them
Witnesses: Thomas WALKER, Andrew TOOKE, John PERROTT
Probate was granted to George BURNETT, brother and executor, on 22 Oct 1715 in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury.

The sister named ASKWITH was Thomas' sister Frances, who married Christopher ASKWITH and obviously had more than one child. There were three other sisters, named Dorothy, Meriel and Mary, who must have died without having children. Burial records have been found for Merial and Mary, both of whom died as spinsters and were buried in the family plot in the chancel of Croft parish church. Thomas also had at least one other brother, named William, who must have died with no surviving children.