Peter Brown Family History

John Howes - Early Payne family of Sussex - Part One


The Paynes were a large and ubiquitous family from Sussex with numerous branches evident in 16th century parish registers and were probably related to Paynes in Hampshire, Kent and Surrey. Many Sussex families can claim to either be descendents of a Payne or to have a Payne in their extended family tree. For me it is my 10 x great grandmother Elizabeth Payne christened in Ardingly on 11 Mar 1592/3, the daughter of Richard Payne. The 16th century Ardingly parish registers contain much information on the family but little connects them together and I was unable to find a published comprehensive review of the family. Peter Brown ( has organized many of the 16th century Paynes and this persuaded me to start researching earlier records of the family. I collected everything I could find on the family into the 17th century, and transcribed numerous wills. What resulted was akin to having a jigsaw puzzle with pieces missing but with enough information to see a pattern emerge. I noticed that the early Paynes frequently appeared in documents with both the Bolney family and the Homewoods (various spellings) and later with the Michelborne als Mascall family and Richard Tanner. This last association is important as it tied several branches together. It was also important to note which lands they occupied and to locate these lands on maps.

The Payne family in the 14th century occupied areas in the South Downs in and near Eastbourne. One branch was settled in the Twineham area near Cuckfield and expanded to nearby parishes including Lindfield, Ardingly, West Hoathly and East Grinstead and there is unambiguous evidence for a continuous line of Paynes from around 1411 to 1597 in the Hickstead area of Twineham with continuing ownership of the property into the 19th century.

The Paynes of Twineham

John Payne Sen (c.1360-c1414). John Payne was reeve of the Manor of Eastbourne for the year 1387-88. In 1394 a “feet of fines” referred to John Payne and his wife Gunnora who were granted a rent of 7s for property in Eastbourne, a transaction that was also recorded in the Book of Bartholomew Bolney (Sussex Record Society website). John Payne died around 1415 and the property went to his son Thomas following a transaction in which Gunnora gave the rent to William Handyman who then returned it in a charter dated 12 Jan 1416 to Gunnora for life with remainder to her son Thomas. This appears in the Bolney book under a section on property called Mesdes (or Meads) in Eastbourne which became the property of the John Bolney around 1436.

In 1411 John Bolney with John Payne senior and junior acquired with others property in Slinfold (Bodleian charters 214, 215 and 216). The Bolney book references a property called Wontleseland given by a charter dated 24 Mar 1414/5 to several people including James Homwode and only one John Payne. I surmise that John senior was dead and thus in the early 15th centuriy there was a John Payne in Eastbourne and in Twineham/Bolney both associated with the Bolney family and both of whom died around 1414. I believe these were the same person.  

John Payne Jun (c1380-c1433). In addition to the charter mentioned above John Payne appeared in several documents dated between 1419 and 1430.

Jan 7 1419 (Sergison 1/122 – WSRO) Feoffment to John Payne and others of lands in the Manor of Franklin, which had just been purchased by the Homewood family.

1426 “Feet of Fines” John Payne and John Bolney vs John Kaynes concerning 400 ac of property in Bolney.

1428 (Bodleian Charter 221) Quitclaim to John Payne for rights of lands in Slinfold from John Bolney and others.

22 Mar 1429 (Sergison 1/123 – WSRO) Feoffment from John Payne and John Bolney to William Sydeney of the lands referenced in the 1419 document.

24 Sep 1430 (Bodleian Charters 222 and 223) John Payne exchanged all lands in Cokefeld (Cuckfield) for lands in Slinfold granted to William Sydeney, John Bolney and others.

John Payne apparently died before 1437 as a document dated 27 Nov 1437 records that James Homewood devised the property mentioned in the 1419 feoffment along with other properties to Bartholomew Bolney, with no mention of John Payne.

Richard Payne (c1400-c1460). The Bolney book describes Richard Payne as holding Wontleseland, the property once held by his father John. The book also describes the leasing of some property which had rights to use a lane on lands of Richard Payne between “Highsteede” and “Ryssebrygge” which can be easily identified on modern maps as Hicksted and Rice Bridge and located exactly where Little Hickstead farm is today. Richard also turned up in two other documents:

4 Sep 1452 (Wiston 1503-WSRO) as a witness to a deed with John Payne (probably his son).

2 May 1454 (Wiston 3010-WSRO) as a witness to a quitclaim in which John ate Homewood was also a witness.

The Bolney book was written in the 1460’s and it refers to Wontleseland as now being held by the heirs of Richard Payne suggesting Richard had died around 1460. Wontleseland was located at what is now called Little Hickstead.

A John Payne of Cokefeld referred to in the Book of Bartholomew Bolney in a charter dated 30 Nov 1458 was probably the son of Richard.

Richard left at least one son named John but it seems likely that he was the father of at least two other sons and possibly a fourth. These were i) William associated with Lindfield and Waldron, ii) Thomas who was in Lindfield and later Ardingly. The possible fourth was Robert, the ancestor of one of the East Grinstead branches.

John Payne (c1425- ?) On Dec 1449, John was cited in a charter to Bartholomew Bolney concerning the Manor of Stonelynk in Wynchelse and as noted above as a witness with his father in 1452. John appeared in several documents between 1458 and 1476.

30 Nov 1458 (Book of Bartholomew Bolney) Charter with Elizabeth Bolney, wife of Bartholomew on property in West Firle.

2 Jan 1461 (AMS-135 - ESRO) Witness to a feoffment in Cuckfield involving Gilbert ate Homewood and Richard Tanner who was associated with William Payne the probable brother of John.

30 Apr 1462 (Book of Bartholomew Bolney) certain lands (unspecified) given by Bartholomew Bolney to John Payne and others including James Homewode.

20 Feb 1469/70 (Wiston 3019-WSRO) and 8 Oct 1474 (Wiston 3025 & 3026) John Payne and James Homewood were witnesses.

30 Apr 1476 (Book of Bartholomew Bolney) John Payne and James Homewood appear as witnesses in a charter concerning lands in West Firle.

In 1492 James Homewood sold the manor of Franklins to John Mascall of Wivelsfield, and John Mascalls brother, Richard was married to Margaret Payne at the time.

Robert Payne (dates uncertain). There is little information on Robert. In 1505 Robert Payne was a witness of the will of Richard Staplegh and in 1525 Robert Payne paid a lay tax of £5.00 in the Hundred of Wyndham, which included Twineham and Bolney.

John Payne (?-1545). John who left a will dated 1545 was of Hickstead. To his heir John he left a property in Hurstpierpoint called Chatts (Chates).  This property is a short distance to the northeast of Hickstead. Other children included two sons William, and Robert and three daughters Jane, Margaret and Elizabeth, all under the age of 20 in 1545. Another son Richard was his executor and John Staplegh was a witness.

John Payne (c1522- ?) This is the son of John of Hickstead who inherited the property there as well as Chates but by 1578 the property was in the hands of his brother William.

William Payne (c1528-1579).  Son of the John who died in 1545, he made his will of 1578 and was “of Twynham” but was living in Hurstpierpoint at Chates at the time of his death. William left his property to his son John. William’s other heir was his daughter Anne. John Payne of Lindfield was the overseer of William’s will.

Anne Payne (c1560-1647) Anne was probably an heir of William Payne, or may have been the daughter of his brother John but either way she was a granddaughter of the John Payne who died in 1545. She married her distant cousin Edward Payne of East Grinstead in 1583 at Twineham (Wallace Henry Hills “History of East Grinstead”-1906). Her descendents formed one of the main branches of the family in East Grinstead. The property known as Little Hickstead Farms was in the hands of Anna and Edward’s descendents into the 19th century. Chates in Hurstpierpoint was occupied by their son Edward in 1641 but by 1673 century was with Wood family.

The Paynes of Lindfield

It is in Lindfield that a long association between the Paynes and the Mitchelborne als Mascall family is seen. There were two prominent members of the Payne family associated with Lindfield in the latter half of the 15th century, namely Thomas and William who were certainly brothers and probably the sons of Richard of Twineham. Thomas, who I will refer to as “the elder” was the ancestor of the Ardingly Paynes (See Part 2). I will deal briefly with him here as documents in which he appears provide important evidence to link the family.

24 Mar 1488/9 (MSS 30845 WSRO); a quitclaim deed on land of Thomas Payne to John Michelborn als Mascalls.

24 Oct 1497 (SRC/7/1-ESRO); a quitclaim from Thomas Ewden of West Hoathly to Richard Payne the son of Thomas Payne concerning his rights in a property called Walsted in Lindfield

The Paynes in Lindfield in the late 15th century and early 16th century were associated with two main properties; Walsted (Walstead) just mentioned which is adjacent to the East Mascalls property of the Michelborn/Mascalls and Wickham which lies about a mile west of Walstead.

William Payne (c1435-late 15th century)

In “The Visitations of the County of Sussex” Richard Michelborn als Mascalls is shown as the husband of Margaret Payne, daughter of William Payne. In Richard Mascalls will of 1522 his wife was named Thomasyn. Margaret apparently died but one of Richard’s daughters was named Margaret.

William Payne was probably born around 1435. He appeared in a grant dated 1478/9 (Chancery Ancient Deeds C C 146/982 in which Richard Tanner of Lyndfield granted to Richard Mascall the elder, John ate Homwood, William Payne and others all his lands etc in the Parish of Walderne (Waldron). Richard Tanner’s will dated Jun 6 1486 affirmed William Payne as his feofee. This is the Richard Tanner who was associated with John Payne of Twineham the probable brother of William. The Manor of Tanners in Waldron was also associated with the Paynes of Brambletye in East Grinstead during the 16th century. The association between the Paynes and the Michelborne/Mascalls lasted for over two centuries.

Next Generations

The only documentation on the Lindfield Paynes between 1497 and 1559 were the 1524 Lay subsidies. Richard Payne paid £6.00, while a second entry for a Richard paid £2.00. Perhaps these were the same Richard, and one is likely the son of Thomas Payne the elder. There are two entries for Thomas Payne, one for £1.00 and another for £2.00. They could be a son and grandson of the elder Thomas. They are not in the Lindfield parish registers which commenced in 1558. There was a John Payne, wevyer and Simon Payne paid £2.00 on lands but since this is the only reference to Simon it is impossible to place him.

Roger Payne (c1520-1561). In 1561 Roger Payne of Walstead died leaving a will.  In 1546 he was a witness to the will of Richard Blaker of Cuckfield, thus he was born before 1525. His will identified two young daughters of whom I have been unable to find out anything further. Roger’s widow Alice married John Fairhall (or Verroul) shortly after Roger’s death. John Fairhall’s niece Alice then married Richard Payne, son of John Payne senior of Wickham. The Fairhall’s were from Sunt in Lindfield, located between Wickham and Walstead which was owned by the Michelborne als Mascall family. A century later in 1662 parts of Walstead were held by Thomas Payne, a descendent of Henry Payne of Horsted Keynes who died in 1558.

John Payne (c 1510-1560). The main branch of the Payne family in Lindfield in the 16th century was the family of John Payne of Wickham who was probably Roger’s brother. It is uncertain from whom John descended but he probably descended from Thomas the elder of Ardingly.

The first record of John Payne (senior) of Wickham was his will dated 30 Sept 1559 and proved 22 Apr 1560. John was married to Thomasine Feldwicke, the daughter of Walter and Margaret Feldwicke whose family were long established in this area with connections back to the 13th century. John left bequests to his son Richard and his daughters. His heir was son John Payne junior born around 1535.

John Payne junior was married twice, but his first wife’s name is unknown. She was buried in Lindfield as “wife of John Payne of Wickham” on 23 May 1573. They had at least five children most of whom died by 1573. John may have remarried soon after as the register has a “wife of John” buried in 1576 and he married for a third time around 1579 but once again the name of his wife is unknown. They had nine children and John sold Wickham in 1583 (MSS 27026-WSRO). This grant dated 22 Aug 1583 was from John Payne of Lindfield, yeo to Richard Leeche of Fletching, included Wickham, and parcels of land called Highgrove, Highgrove Field and Petfield, and all John’s lands and tenements in Lindfield, totalling 100a., except a piece of land called Hookes (30a.). The parcel of land called Hookes (30a.) in Lindfield was mortgaged by John Payne to William Tully on 26 Mar 1583/4 (MSS 27024-WSRO). This property was close to and probably adjacent to Wickham, and had been held by the Michelborne family since 1425 (SAS D 4/5 – ESRO).  John and kinsman Thomas of Stone were jurors at inquisitions in Cuckfield in 1567. John was buried in Lindfield on 17 Nov 1600.

Richard Payne (1558-1603) Richard Payne of Lindfield the son of John senior identified in his will was christened in Lindfield on 11 Oct 1558. He married Ann Verroull (Fairhall) there on 30 Apr 1587. Richard and Ann had eight children born between 1587 and 1600 but between Aug 9 1603 and 12 Sep 1603, Richard, Ann and six of their children were buried.  The Lindfield register has the following notation “burials of the Payne family at Santhill, who died of the plague during August and September 1603, when the parents and six children died”. Santhill refers to Sunt the home of the Fairhalls.

In Part 2, I will take up the story of Thomas the elder and the various branches of the Payne family in Ardingly.

NOTE: In the documents cited in this article the family name is spelled either Payn, Payne, Pain or Peyn, but I have used one spelling.

ESRO- East Sussex Record Office, WSRO – West Sussex Record Office.