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“His dead are in the churchyard, thirty generations laid
Their name was old in history when Domesday Book was made
And the passion and the piety and the prowess of his line
Are seeded, rooted, fruited in some land the law calls mine.”

Rudyard Kipling


See “The Land” by Rudyard Kipling. Sir H L L Denny, Rector of Burwash, states that the poem is not poetic license but recorded of a Burwash man. Hebden is called Hobden in Mr Kiplings stories and Hepden by Sussex heralds. (C. 27 Heralds Office, Sussex).
(Note: Over the years, due to accents and illiteracy, Hebden of Burwash has gone through various stages spelling with Hepden, Hepton etc. I have used Hebden for ease and apologize unreservedly in advance should this cause offence to any Hepton, Hepden, Hepdons).


THOMAS HEBDEN was born about 1530 in Yorkshire. About the time of his birth was the time that Henry was beginning his collection of wives, having divorced Katherine of Aragon, executed Anne Boleyn and married Jane Seymour. No doubt the conversation around the fires of Thomas’s parents and grandparents would have been rife with gossip about these events. It would have made Thomas of much of an age as the future Queen Elizabeth I.

Where he came from is hinted at by records which state that he “ was a gentleman who came out of the north” and that he came from “Almoscliffe”. Taking into account the northern accent on the southern ear, this would be Almscliffe, near Harrogate and Thomas is therefore, most likely, of the Ripon branch or the Sawley branch. We know little of his early life.except that at some stage he married and moved almost as far south as he could go, to Burwash in Sussex.
Nothing is known of his wife or where she came from but by around 1555 to 1565 we will find him with two sons STEPHEN and JOHN though whether they were born there or en route to Burwash, it is not known. Nor are the reasons for the move. Was he lured down south with stories of streets paved with gold ? Perhaps it was accidental that Burwash was the eventual settling point or maybe there was some business connection. We shall probably never know. All we do know is that Thomas, Stephen and John all reached Burwash and that is where Thomas died.

STEPHEN HEBDEN married Agnes Aylinge in Rogate (Reigate ?) in 1589, the year that James I of England married his wife Anne of Denmark. Stephen and Agnes had three sons PETER, JOHN & RICHARD. The three boys would have been born in the 1590s and we only know of Richards descendants. It is not known who Richard married but he is known to have had four sons, Thomas who died in 1638, John, Stephen and William. Descendants of these fours sons is unknown which gives plenty of scope for many more branches of Hebden to be linked in.

Stephens brother JOHN HEBDEN married Jane Wentham and died around 1583. They had four sons, descendants being known of two.

John and Jane’s sons were John who would have been born around 1553 and died in 1628.
In the PRO there is a document listed as being connected with a John Hebden of Burwash being made a ward of court and he was classed as being “stupid”. The document was drawn up in the time of Elizabeth I and may be in connection with this child.or Stephen’s son John. It is possible, for those that are interested, to obtain quotes and copies from the PRO for a “small” cost.
John and Jane also had sons THOMAS, William (1559 – 1580 Burwash) and GODDARD

THOMAS was born around 1553. He married a Mary Harmer in 1575 and had at least fifteen children before he died somewhere about 1610. Mary must have outlived him because their youngest child Humphrey, of whom no more is known, was born in 1610 the year his father died.

Of the other thirteen children, descendants are only known of one but it is certain that more must have had families.
Mary, John, John, Thomas, Martha, Constance, Joan, Elizabeth, Dennis, Judith, Pelham, Humphrey, William, Anne and Herbert wre all born in Burwash between 1578 and 1610. We also know that Herbert died aged 42 in 1636
Mary married a George Avery, Joan married John Pilcher, Elizabeth became Mrs Thomas Mannsell and Judith wed John Barham.
THOMAS, son of Thomas and Mary was born 1583 in Burwash. He married Susan Crittenden in1627 and had three children. One was unnamed, then there was Thomas in 1630 and John in 1632, though whether these children had any descendants is anyone’s guess.

However, the story of the Burwash Hebdens turns back to GODDARD son of John. He was born around 1553 in Burwash but didn’t remain there as when he died sometime after 1632 he had moved a short distance to Brightling where he died. GODDARD married Ann Frye in 1575 and this couple were also quite prolific having ten children, some with the most wonderful of names.

Elizabeth(b. 1581) married George Deering
John was born 1583 and died aged 38, presumably with no descendants.
Returne (or Redmond) was born in 1585 in Warleton. In due course he found himself imprisoned for his religious beliefs.
Goodgift was born in 1586 and eventually married a Fabulon Newington of Ticehurst. (Any children of this marriage are unknown but it is unlikely that if there were any that they were called John !!.)
Hopestill (1589); married Sam Newington of Kingston Bowsey in 1613
Fearnot (1591) married a Thomas Newington of Newington in 1619
Constance married Alexander Elliott of Mayfield in 1624
and then there were two boys Goddard who was born in 1598 and died aged 36 & Herbert who was just 16 when he too died.

Finally, there was THANKFUL HEBDEN who married three times. The first marriage was to Susanna Selwood and the third in 1661 was to Susanna Wood of Ticehurst but no children of either of these marriages are mentioned. His second marriage to Frances Bruer in 1646 at St Dionisis Backchurch, London produced at least seven children.

These were the Cromwellian years. Prior to their marriage the Civil war raged and by the time that Frances and Thankful had been married three years, King Charles I lost his head. The Parliamentarian regime had begun and it would not be about the time that their youngest child was born that the Stuart monarchy was restored.

Sometime around this age, the Burwash Hebdens were cannon makers of some repute. The home in Burwash was a rather elegant stone building with the Hebden coat of arms carved into the stone lintel above the door.
(I know this because I have actually seen it when my father took me on a “Hebden Hunting”trip. I was in my late teens at the time and you can imagine my amazement to find that the current occupant of that house was Roger Daltrey of The Who.)
Anyway, back to genealogical details……

Samuel was the eldest, born in 1648, followed a year later by Thomas who married an. Elizabeth Fowle in 1668 at Burwash.
Third was JOHN HEBDEN,(1651- 1695) follwed by Frances and then Mary who married a Willliam Wood in Burwash in 1687. Elizabeth was born in 1658 but died aged two and then finally there was an unnamed child born and died in 1661. Judging by the date of Thankful’s third marriage, Frances Bruer may well have died in childbirth.

JOHN is the child that we know something more about.
His wife was Mary and we see the repeat of some of the family names that were avoided by Thankful when he named his children.
Hopestill died aged 2 in 1679 and then there was GODDARD(b1681) who, in his turn, married a Mary and had six children - Ann, Goddard, John, Mary, Thomas and Elizabeth.

THOMAS would appear to have been the youngest and he was born in 1726. His wife was Jane and their first three children (Charles, Thomas & Jane) were born in Chichester St Pancras. Next came John born 1749 in Warbleton, and then William and Elizabeth were christened in 1754, presumably in Warbleton.

The Stuarts have gone, William and Mary have gone and we are now well into the reign of George II.

The above WILLIAM HEBDEN is the only one we know anything of. He married a lady called Ann and their seven children were born in Warbleton. -
WILLIAM, Robert, Henry, James, John, Maria and Barberry,were all born between 1767 and 1787 and only their years of birth are known so what happened to them is yet to be established.

However, the future of WILLIAM has been documented and he was born in 1772 in Warbleton. There, 22 years later, he married Esther Forts.
Only one son is known, SAMUEL born in 1796 in Dallington.

Kipling made reference to Old Hepden of Burwash in one of his poems but unfortunately at the moment, I have mislaid the papers. However, once I find them I shall update this page.

I do know that there are descendants of the Burwash Hebdens out there and hopefully they will furnish me with further details to add to this tree so that it can be completed as far as possible.