Anne or Ann Woodward married Robert Estes, a mariner, in St. Nicholas Church in Sholden on December 2, 1591, a Monday. Given when she married and her age when she last bore children, she would have been born around 1573 or so.
We don’t know a lot about Anne, we don’t know who here parents were and we know nothing of her early life, before she married. We do know that the Woodward family would have been members of the St. Nicholas of Sholden church at that time, and that if her marriage record exists, surely other church records exist as well. Her parents and perhaps her birth are surely recorded here.
St. Nicholas was constructed in the 1200s and portions of the original church remain. It is located on the original Sandwich/Deal road which passed right through what is now the graveyard with the doorway being on the north side of the church, now enclosed. The present road was constructed in 1795, so after Anne was long buried in Ringwould.
This church was heavily damaged during WWII, in April 1941, but in the nave, some of the original components still remain, believed to date from 1070-1120. The church was not reopened until 1947 when repairs were complete. The bell tower and north isle were added in 13th and 14th centuries when the church was only a few hundred years old.
Here is the Shoulden church in 1918 before it was damaged in WWII, but it is surely more beautiful today.
The bride would have come in from the rear of the church, through these doors, and would have walked down this aisle, unless she entered from the now converted original porch, shown below. This porch would be a remnant of the time when the road passed through the churchyard on this side of the church. Today, this is the “back” but at one time, it was the front.
She would have proceeded to the nave, where she and Robert would have been married, hopefully on a bright sunny day like the day was when we visited in September 2013.
The first child born to Robert and Anne Woodward Estes was born and baptized in Shoulden, but in 1595, they moved down the road a few miles to Ringwould where they would become members of St. Nicholas church there, and where they would live the rest of their lives. There are no Woodward records in that church, so Sholden was definitely the home church of the Woodward family.
The baptismal font in which Anne’s first child was baptized still exists today. The basin and stem are 14th and 15th century, respectively.
1. Matthew Eastes, baptized 11 June 1592 at Sholden, Kent, died as an infant.
2. Sylvester Eastes, baptized 26 September 1596 at Ringwould, Kent;
3. Alice Eastes, baptized 26 March 1597 at Ringwould, married Thomas Beane, 28 October 1628 at Ringwould. They had children Christopher (1628); Richard (1632) of St. Mary the Virgin, Dover, Kent; Mary (1636) of Great Mongeham, Kent; Sarah (1638) of Westminster, London; Judith (1642); and, Thomas (1643) of All Hallows Staining, London. The bolded entries reflect possibilities for mitochondrial DNA testing of descendants.
4. Matthew Eastes, mariner, born 1601, Ringwould, Kent, died 1621, buried 4 June 1621, St Leonard’s, Deal, Kent, he married Margaret Johnson, 23 November 1620, Deal, Kent. Margaret died and was buried 15 October 1622, St Leonard’s, Deal, Kent. Children: Martha (1621) of Deal, Kent, and William (1621-1687) of Ringwould, Kent.
5. Robert Eastes, Jr. was baptized 29 May 1603, Ringwould, Kent, he married Dorothy Wilson, 31 January 1634, Ringwould, Kent. Children: Robert (1635), Thomas (1636), Sylvester (1638), Sarah (1640), infant (1643) of Ringwould, Kent, Matthew (1645-1723) and Richard (1647-1737), both born at Dover, Kent and died in America. This is the “Northern Estes” line that settled in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
6. Thomas Eastes, baptized 2 June 1605 at Ringwould, Kent, died in 1671, at Ringwould, Kent, he married Joan Wilson, 21 November 1636, at Ringwould, Kent.
7. Susan Eastes, baptized 30 October 1608 at Ringwould, Kent.
8. John Eastes, baptized 3 March 1610 at Ringwould, Kent, he spent the latter years of his life in poverty, living on parish assistance. John died in 1684, at Ripple, Kent.
9. (Male) Eastes, born in 1616 at Ringwould, Kent, died at birth.
The church is beautiful, inside and out.
Since we don’t know who Anne’s parents were, but we do know that this was her home church, I surely have to wonder if they are buried in this very hallowed ground. They must surely be here. Perhaps her grandparents too, and siblings. Even after Anne and Robert Estes moved, Anne was surely back in this church regularly throughout her lifetime.
The church records at St. Nicholas of Ringwould tell us about her children’s baptisms, beginning in 1596. She had additional children in 1598, 1605, 1608 and in 1610 according to church records, and then 1616 happened. It was a terrible year for the Estes family, and for Anne in particular. She and Robert had been married for 25 years. They had several children at home ages, 6 through 20. Anne was pregnant again, expecting her last child, given that she was about 43 years of age. But then tragedy struck. On November 4th, Robert Eustace, householder, was buried. And then 3 days before Christmas, a baby girl was born, and died, before she could be baptized.
Anne was left with 5 children and no husband. Fortunately, her eldest 2 children were males. That’s probably all that saved her. Five years later, her son, Matthew, a mariner, age 20, would die as well, followed by his wife a year later. Who raised their baby? Did Anne take that child to raise as well?
Nov. 4, 1616 – Robert Eustace, householder buried
Dec. 22, 1616 – daughter of Robert Eustace, not baptized, buried
In 1625, Anne’s children began to marry in this church.
Her son Sylvester Estes was the first, marrying Ellen Martin. That must have been a joyful day, and the next year would welcome Ellen’s first child into the world, baptized there as well, from the same baptismal font in which Anne’s own children had been baptized.
More grandchildren arrived and in 1628, her daughter was married as well.
And then there is this solemn entry for Anne’s own death in 1630.
May 18, 1630 – Anne Esties, widdowe, buried
Anne must have been ill, because she made a will on April 4, 1630. It was probated June 9, 1630. Estes researcher Don Bowler found it years ago, but when it was requested from the UK National Archives, they reported that it doesn’t exist. Perhaps Estes was spelled in some odd way.
Anne, Robert and their daughter born in 1616 are all buried in the churchyard at St. Nicholas of Ringwould. Their son Matthew who died in 1621 may be buried here too, assuming he didn’t drown. That could have been Robert’s fate as well. Both men were mariners.
Perhaps they are buried someplace near this centuries old yew that stands silent sentry over generations of Estes descendants of Robert, the mariner, who died in 1616 and Anne, his wife who died in 1630. This yew would have seen their burials.
There is a Woodward DNA project, but there doesn’t seem to be anyone who has tested that can track their lines back to Kent. I’ll gladly offer a scholarship to any Woodward male from this Kent line. I would also be very interested in obtaining the transcribed church records from Sholden in Deal in order to determine the parents of Anne Woodard.
I would also love to offer a scholarship for mitochondrial DNA testing for anyone who descends from Anne through all females to the current generation. If we can determine her parents and siblings, she may also have sisters who may have eligible descendants today. Alice had 2 daughter, but nothing is known of Susan aside from her baptism record. Alice is the only female to survive long enough to marry and reproduce. Alice had 3 daughter, Mary, Sarah and Judith burn in 1636, 1638 and 1642. We know nothing about what happened to these daughters. Maybe they are lurking in your tree???
If you descend from the Kent Woodward family or have access to the Sholden church records, please contact me!!
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