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The Searles Family

of Melton, Suffolk

Direct ancestors are shown in the lists in bold
BVRI = 2nd edition of British Vital Records Index (LDS)

Updated - Mar 2009

A tribute to Searles ancestors
The tree below shows some of the instances of the Searles surname used as first or middle name which first raised doubts about our original identification of Jane, wife of Richard Wood from IGI sources. It was a visit to Richard and Jane's tomb that finally solved the issue - after the application of a splendid pair of secateurs and suitable brush to remove a huge train of brambles and ivy which covered most of it. The inscription was finally legible after pouring the rest of our drinking water (it was a hot day) and finally our thermos of coffee over it - and there at last was the surname Searles which we had been seeking. (Photos of 'before' and 'after' can be seen on the second Wood family page). The actual burials were probably below ground level but hopefully we rescued the rest of the tomb for survival well into its 3rd century.

The study of the Searles family is still in its infancy as there are only two generations known about at present, Richard Searles, his wife Mary and their seven children. Richard and Mary were probably both born ten or more years before 1700. It is also likely that Richard was born in Melton for there are records of the name occurring there in the second half of the 16th century, the spelling then being consistently 'Sarles'. (Did this reflect a local accent?) All seven children are listed as 'Searls' or 'Searles' by the IGI (Batch #C062702) :

1. Richard Searls chr. 12 Apr 1716
2. Henry Searls chr. 2 Dec 1719
3. Mary Searles chr. 22 Dec 1721 m. Dr John Syer
4. Elizabeth Searles chr. 16 Mar 1723 m. Robert Chaplin

5. Jane Searles b.& chr. 5 Sep 1726 m. Richard Wood
6. Catherine Searles chr. 17 Oct 1727
7. Martha Searls chr. 26 Dec 1728

3. Mary Searles married John Syer in Melton on 6 Jan 1740. John made his Will (below), admitting that he was already suffering from some illness, in 1796 and died in 1798, being buried in the old church of St Andrew's in Melton on 30 Dec 1798.. He describes himself as a 'yeoman', but can presumably be identified with the John Syer of Melton, a 'Doctor in Physic', friend of Richard Wood and churchwarden with him in Melton so he is also mentioned on some documents relevant to dealings in church property. He was also one of the witnesses to Richard's will in 1796. (meaning of course that he is not the John Syer who was buried in Melton in 1782!) He and Mary had 14 children, not 12 as previously thought.

4. Elizabeth Searles married Robert Chaplin on 3 May 1744 in Dallinghoo, a village not far from Melton. Nothing more is known of them at present and none of the other children have yet been found elsewhere.

5. Jane Searles was born on 5 Sep 1726. She and Richard Wood (4) were married at Melton by the Rev. Thomas Lambert on 16 Oct 1752. The family bible adds : 'Present were Mrs Ann Lambert, Mr John Syer, (Mrs) Mary Syer his (i.e. Richard's) sister, and Robert Baxter the sexton.


The Syer family

The origins of the Syer family are unknown, but the name appears to have been a fairly common one in Suffolk with a large number named John scattered over a large area around Ipswich and Woodbridge. The main means of identifying John are therefore the siblings mentioned in his will (transcript included in the footnotes). Some have a child mentioned in the will of 1796, included in the list below.

John Syer
Daniel Syer - handicapped
William Syer - children
Francis Syer - daughter
Margaret Syer - daughter
Mark Syer - son
Mary Syer
Thomasin Low
Elizabeth Syer

It seems highly likely that Daniel was handicapped in some way as John makes special provision for 'my brother Syer' , not like his kinsman Jeaffreson Sheppard until he reaches the age of 21, but 'with Cloathes Board Washing and Lodging during the term of his natural life'. The identification of Daniel with this 'my brother Syer' is obvious when his name appears for the first time as 'my said brother Daniel'.

Only Thomasin is called by her married name so the status of the other sisters is unknown.

'My kinsman Jeaffreson Sheppard' was the son of Sarah Sheppard (1753-1805) and Edward Sheppard (1851-1818), a farmer in Mendlesham. The IGI gives the following dates: Edward Sheppard married Sarah Jefferson (sic) on 30 Aug 1781 [M062701] and Jeaffreson was baptized on 15 Dec 1781 at Mendlesham. [Batch #7531506 - a 'private' submission, not an extract from the parish register] Quite a large sum of money was promised to the children of this Sarah, so it is of some interest to discover the actual relationship between her and John Syer, but the connection must be on the Jeaffreson, not the Sheppard side. Jeaffreson is given as an apprentice to Messrs John and Philip Cross of Woodbridge, grocers and tallow chandlers and was about 15 at this time (1796). He was 'living in' as Mary was to see that he too had 'Cloaths Washing and other Necessaries during his said Apprenticeship'. Sadly and ironically as it turned out, especially with the provisional ' in case the said Jeaffreson Sheppard shall happen to die before he arrives at his said Age of twenty-one Years' , he died at that very age of (barely) 21, being buried in Woodbridge on 30 Dec 1802.


Family of John Syer & Mary Wood

John (1722-1798) and Mary (1721-1777) had 14 children :

  1. Searles Syer b.abt 1741
  2. Mary Syer  1742-1813 m. Rev Christopher Jeaffreson I
  3. John Syer 1744-1823
  4. Richard Searles Syer 1745-1784
  5. Anne Syer b. 1746 m. Lionel Cole, Woodbridge 25 Nov 1790
  6. Jane Syer 1748 -1748
  7. Jane Syer 1749 - 1749
  8. Catherine Syer b. 1751
  9. Thomas Syer 1753-1753
  10. Catherine Syer 1754-1755
  11. Amy Syer 1755-1756
  12. Jane Syer b. 1758
  13. Elizabeth b. 1760 (probably did not marry)

There were two John Syers buried within 17 years of each other at Melton Old Church, the first previously identified here incorrectly as the one buried on 20 Aug 1782. This one, husband of Mary Searles has now been identified from his will, dated 12 May 1796, as the 2nd John who was buried at Melton on 2 Oct 1798.

The information about Anne Syer's marriage - at the age of 43 - was found on a mailing list entry saved from 2000. Of particular interest is that the witnesses were Richard Wood and Thomas Syer!

The Jeaffreson Connection

It is really the Syer relationship which is of interest here as the Jeaffresons were not 'main line'. It should also be noted that the dates for the Syer famiy are from the church lists of the IGI . Those 'submitted by a member of the LDS church' have nearly all been ignored as they  provide no sources and are often conflicting. The connections are also still debatable on account of the number of people with the same name! More precise information - with sources -  is essential. A list of crucial dates and other evidence (including John Syer's Will) is given in the footnotes.

Christopher1 and Mary had five children, all born in Melton :

  1. Harriet chr. 11 Sep 1766
  2. Christopher Jeaffreson2, chr. 15 Sep 1769 in Melton, m. Elizabeth Syer (1765-1813)
  3. Mary chr. 6 Oct 1771, m. John Carthew 17 Apr 1797
  4. John chr. 6 Aug 1773
  5. Samuel chr. 22 Oct 1775
Christopher Jeaffreson2, (no.2 above, b.1769) was a curate at Tunstall & Iken, Suffolk. He married Elizabeth Syer, said to be the daughter of Dr Thomas Syer and his wife Sarah (perhaps Garnham) and niece of Dr John Syer. If so she would be cousin to her own mother which would be an odd relationship! Christopher became Vicar of Longborough in Gloucestershire from 1813-1846. He is said to have married again after Elizabeth died but no more is known of this at present. For more on the Jeaffresons search for 'Christopher Jeaffreson' online.
Christopher2 and Elizabeth are said to have had two sons, Christopher3 b. 1794 in Tunstall and Samuel J.Jeaffreson b.1830 - the 2nd looking doubtful quoted baldly! This third Christopher, son of the 2nd, grandson of the first was also ordained, though after a very brief spell in Gloucester he served mostly in Antigua as a Chaplain to the H.E.I.C. (Honourable East India Company) until he retired in 1839. His son, Herbert, broke the pattern and was a graduate of Oxford whereas all the Christophers were Cambridge graduates


Burials in Melton :
John Syer,  date of birth unknown, buried in the 'old church' of St Andrew on 20 Aug 1782
John Syer, date of birth unknown, buried in the 'old church' of St Andrew on 7 Oct 1798

Will of John Syer, yeoman  (Some changes have been made to the formatting to make this easier to read. Page divisions are marked by /1/, /2/ etc, commas have been added - there being none in the original, names are in bold, but no other changes in the substance, such as wording, spelling, sentence construction etc or other detail have been made. ? is used to mark a word which is not very clear. ff is the old way of writing a capital F)

In the Name of God Amen

I John Syer of Melton in the County of Suffolk, a yeoman, being sick and weak in body but of sound and disposing mind, memory and understanding, do make and declare this my last will and testament in manner following, (that is to say) I commended My Soul to Almighty God my Creator hoping through his Mercy and the merits of my Saviour Jesus Christ I shall enjoy Eternal Life my Body I commit to the Earth to be decently buried at the disposition of my Executrix and Executor herein after named and as for such Worldly Estate as it hath pleased God to bless me withal I give and dispose thereof as follows:

 /1/  ffirst I will order and direct that all my just Debts and ffuneral Expences shall be fully paid and satisfied and after payment thereof I give and devise unto Mary my Wife and Philip Riches of Woodbridge in the said County Banker my Executrix and Executor herein after named all that my Messuage or Tenement Outhouses, Buildings Lands also hereditaments and Premisses with their and every of their appurts situate laying and being in Marlesford in the said County of Suffolk or Towns next or near adjoining now in the Tenure or Occupation of Samuel Burrell his Undertenants or Assigns to hold the same and every part thereof unto the said Mary my Wife and Philip Riches and their Heirs in Trust nevertheless to make Sale and dispose of the same and every part thereof as soon as conveniently can be after my Decease for the best price or prices //2/ that can or may be had or go herein? 

For (probably not a new sentence) the same and the Money arising therefrom together with the Rents and Profits until such Sale (after paying all Expences attending the same) I direct shall go unto my Residuum and be taken as a part thereof and all the rest residue and remainder of my Goods Chattels Household ffurniture Debts due to me, ready Money Securities for Money and all other my Estate and Substance whatsoever and wheresoever and of what nature or kind soever I direct shall be converted into Money as soon as may be conveniently after my decease and the Monies arising therefrom together with the Money arising from the Sale of my said Estate and other my Effects (after Payment of all my just Debts Legacy ffuneral Expences and other incidental Charges and Expences attending the Proving and Execution of this my Will which I desire may be fully paid and satisfied) I direct my Executrix and Executor hereinafter named or the Survivor of them or the Executors or Adminstrators of such Survivor to put and place out or continue at Interest in her his or their Name or Names upon Government or such other Securities as they shall think proper and to alter and transpose the same from time to time as they think fit and shall and do pay unto or permit and suffer the said Mary my Wife to have receive and take the ?clear yearly  Dividends Interest and Proceed arising therefrom to and for her sole use and benefit for and during the term /3/ of her natural life (In case she shall so long continue my Widow and provided that she my said Wife do find and provide my Kinsman Jeaffreson Sheppard who is now an Apprentice to Messrs John and Philip Cross of Woodbridge in the said County Grocers and Tallow Chandlers with Cloaths Washing and other Necessaries during his said Apprenticeshipand that she my said Wife do provide my Brother Syer with Cloathes Board Washing and Lodging during the term of his natural life and in case my said Wife shall happen to Intermarry that and in that case I direct that she shall have and receive out of the Interest Money so to be received as aforesaid only the sum of ten pounds Yearly and every Year for and during the term of her natural life and out of the Remainder of the said Interest Money I direct my said Executor his Executors and Administrators to provide for my said Kinsman Jeaffreson Sheppard and my said Brother Daniel Syer as I have herein before directed and from and after the decease of my said Wife I give and bequeath all the said Principal Money so to be place out or continued at Interest as aforesaid and every part thereof  unto the said Jeaffreson Sheppard in case he lives to attain the age of twenty-one Years, providing for my Brother Daniel Syer as aforesaid and in case the said Jeaffreson Sheppard shall happen to die before he arrives at his said Age of twenty-one Years Then and in that case I so give and bequeath after the decease of my said Wife and Brother Daniel Syer the sum of one hundred pounds part of the said Principal Money so to be placed out or continued at Interest as aforesaid unto Sarah the Wife of Edward Sheppard of Mendlesham in the said County ffarmer and one Moiety or half part of the Remainder of the said Principal Money so to be placed out or continued and Interest as aforesaid I give and bequeath unto the Children of the said Sarah Sheppard as shall be their living to be equally divided between them share and share alike and to be paid them at their respective Ages of twenty one Years And (in case as aforesaid) I do give and bequeath the other moiety or half part thereof unto the Children of my Brother William Syer, the Daughter of my Brother ffrancis Syer, the daughter of my Sister Margaret Syer, the Son of my Brother Mark Syer, my Sister Mary Syer, my Sister Thomasina Low and Sister Elizabeth Syer to be equally divided between them share and share alike or to such of them as shall then be living And my Will and desire is that my Executrix and Executor or the Survivor of them or the Executors or Administrators of such Survivor shall not be answerable for any loss that shall or may happen in the putting or placing out the said Monies at Interest as aforesaid unless it shall happen through their or either of their wilful neglect or default or be answerable for any more Interest Money than shall be actually received by them or either of them and I do /4/ hereby nominate constitute and appoint the said Mary my Wife and the said Philip Riches Executrix and Executor of this my Will and I do give unto the said Philip Riches the Sum of Ten Pounds for his trouble in the Execution of my said Will And I do hereby revoke all former and other Wills by me at any time heretofore make And do declare this only to be my last Will and Testament. In Witness whereof I the said John Syer the Testator to this my last will and Testament contained in two Sheets of Paper set my Hand and Seal to each of them the twelfth day of May in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety-six.(1796) John Syer JS Signed Sealed published and declared by the said John Syer the Testator as and for his last Will and Testament in the presence of us who in his presence at his request and in the presence of each other have Signed our Names as Witnesses hereto Richard Wood,  John Wood, Mary Ann Wood


This Will was proved at London the twenty first day of November in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety eight (1798) before the Right Honourable Sir William Wynne Knight Doctor of Laws Master …?… or Commissary of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury lawfully constituted by the Oaths of Mary Syer, Widow the Relict of the Deceased and Philip Riches Esquire the Executors named in the said Will to whom Administration was granted of all and singular the Goods Chattels and Credits of the said deceased having been first sworn (by Commission) duly to administer.


Wood Family 16th-18th century Wood Family - 18th century Wood Family - 19th century