John Cheney Sr.

 John CHENEY Sr. (1568 – 1623) was Alex’s 11th Great Grandfather, one of 4,096  in this generation of the Shaw line.

The Cheneys were exceptional among our ancestors having a coat of arms at the time of their immigration

John Cheney was born 1568, Bennington, Lincolnshire, England. His parents were William CHENEY and William’s cousin Frances CHENEY. He married Elizabeth [__?__]. John died 16 May 1623, Bennington, Lincolnshire, England.

Elizabeth [__?__] was born 1568, Bennington, Lincolnshire, England. Elizabeth was buried 12 Jun 1614 in England.

Children of John and Martha:

Name Born Married Departed
1. Frances Cheney 20 Dec 1596
2. William Cheney 5 Feb 1597
Lambourn, Berkshire, England.
Margaret Cole
c. 1626 England
30 Jun 1667
Roxbury, Suffolk, Mass
3. Jane Cheney 28 Feb 1600
4. John CHENEY 30 Jun 1605 in Roxburgh, Scotland. Martha PARRATT
 3 Mar 1630/31 in Lawford, Wiltshire, England
 drowned at 28 Jul 1666 inat Roxbury, Mass.
5. Edward Cheney  20 Jul 1606
6. Thomas Cheney  25 Jul 1607
7. Agnes Cheney 16 Oct 1608
8. John Cheney – the younger 9 Nov 1609
9. Richard Cheney 29 Sep 1611
10. Elizabeth Cheney 2 Jun 1614

John Cheney was born in Benington, (near Boston) Lincolnshire, England in 1568 to William CHENEY and Frances AGNES. He married Elizabeth [__?__] about 1595 in Waltham, Essex, England.  He married another Elizabeth [__?__]  on 28 Nov 1614. Their marriage was either a second or a late marriage. Two sons named John (b. 30 Jun 1605 and 9 Nov 1609) were included among John and Elizabeth’s ten children. Their son John, who was born 1605, was the family member who immigrated to New England in 1635.  John Sr. died in 1618, Lambourn, Berkshire, England or  16 May 1623, Bennington, Lincolnshire, England.

John Cheney, of Bennington in Lincolnshire, made his will, May 24, 1621, bequeathing to the poor of the parish, to wife Alice, to children and others. He names two sons John, one distinguished from the other by the terms “John the elder” and “John the younger.” John Cheney was buried March 21, 1633.

Edward was buried December 8, 1613; the wife Elizabeth was buried June 12, 1614. A Thomas Cheney was an alderman of Boston, England, in 1585, and the family has been prominent there for several centuries..

Since this is the one of the few lines I’ve found with knights.  I’ll go back further:
14th Generation – William CHENEY b.aby 1540, Thorngumbold, Holderness, Yorkshire, England d. 4 Aug 1608, Boston, Lincolnshire, England

15th William CHENEY b. Abt. 1513, Thorngumbold, Holderness, Yorkshire, England

16th John CHENEY b. Abt. 1485, England

17th Sir Thomas CHENEY of Irthlingborough (Sir) b. Abt. 1448, Fen Ditton, Cambridgeshire, England d. 13 Jan 1512/13, Austria-Hungary

18th (Sir Knight) John CHENEY b. Abt.  1423, Fen Ditton, Cambridgeshire, England d. 14 Jul 1489

19th Sir Lawrence CHENEY b: 1396, Fen Ditton, Cambridgeshire, England d: 30 Dec 1461 Buried: Priory, Barnwell, England Escheator of Bedford & Buckingham. Sheriff of Cambridge and Huntingdon. Descendant of Charlemagne

20th (Sir Knight) William CHENEY b: Abt. 1370, Fen Ditton, Cambridge, England d: ABT 1394 Sheriff of Cambridge and Huntingdon.

21st John CHENEY b: Abt. 1345, Long Stanton, Cambridge, England

22nd Henry CHENEY b: Abt. 1320

23rd Sir William De CHENEY b: 1274, Street, Sussex, England d: Bef.1334

24th Alexander De CHENEY b: Abt. 1248, Newtimber, Sussex, England; d: 1295

25th Alexander De CHENEY b: Abt. 1218, Newtimber, Sussex, England


2. William Cheney

Alternatively, William was John’s nephew and his parents were John’s brother Lawrence Cheney (b. 1566 in Lambourn, Berkshire, England – d. 2 Nov 1643 in Lambourne, Berks, England) and Julian Waldron (b. 1568 in Of Lambourn, Berkshire, England)

William’s wife Margaret Cole was born about 1604 in England. Her parents were William Cole and Elizabeth Deards. After William died, she married (2) Mr Burge (or Burges or Burdge) and moved to Boston. She made a will on 23 Sep 1686, and died sometime later that year in Boston, Suffolk Co., Mass.

It is still a mystery on how or when William arrived in Massachusetts. He was definitely living in Roxbury in 1640 because he was listed in the “estates and persons of the Inhabitants of Rocksbury”. At that time, William owned 24 1/2 acres.

William was a successful farmer. At the time of his death, he owned over 100 acres of land, his home and a house in Boston. The Cheney homestead was located on Dudley Street near Warren Street in Roxbury. Judging from the estate inventory, the main house was large. Probably, there was an entry area which opened on one side to the hall, and on the other side to the parlor. Behind both the hall and the parlor were bed chambers. The hall was the main living area of the Cheneys. The fireplace was located in the hall, and here was where the meals were prepared and eaten. The parlor was more of a state bedroom. Here the best bed with feather bolsters, pillows and fine linen was displayed. The room also boasted a great cupboard, a little cupboard and three chairs. Chairs were not common in New England households, and showed William to be above average in wealth. Also included in the estate inventory were 36 bushels of Indian corn, 12 bushels of Rye, 5 1/2 bushels of mault, 5 cows and 3 swine. This list gives a good indication of the Cheney diet. Indian corn was the staple of the Puritan diet. They learned how to plant, harvest and grind the corn from the Indians. The corn was then used in puddings, cakes, hominy, succotash, etc, etc. “Rye-n-Injun” bread, made from ground corn mixed with rye, was a moist bread which did not dry out quickly. The drink of the Cheneys was beer. It was drunk at all meals by the entire family. Mr Cheney obviously brewed his own beer since he had 5 1/2 bushels of mault.

21 Feb 1648 – William was elected to the board of assessors. He was also a constable of Roxbury in 1654-1656. Constables in those days did more than keep the peace, they also collected the tax money.

19 Jan 1656 – William was elected a member of the board of selectman, an office associated with men of education and rank. In 1663, William Cheney guaranteed yearly contributions to the Roxbury Free School. The school, a first for Roxbury, was built with care and furnished with “convenient benches with forms, with tables for the scholars, and a conveniente seate for the schoolmaster, a deske to put the dictionary on and shelves to lay up bookes”.

15 Feb 1663 – Cheney was chosen one of the Feofese of the school. The closest modern word for a feofee would be a director, and in Roxbury there were seven feofese. They made decisions on hiring of teachers, administrative matters and finances.

William Cheney did not join the Puritan Church until January 5, 1664 – at least 24 years after he arrived in Roxbury. This is an interesting fact because in those days Massachusetts was a Puritan Colony. The Church leaders were also the Colony leaders, and they dictated all aspects of life from what holidays could be celebrated (not Christmas) to what books could be printed and sold (mostly sermons). In 1631, it was enacted that “no one should be admitted a freeman, and so have the right to vote, unless he was a member of one of the churches within the limits of the colony”. How did William prosper in such a climate? Why did he wait so many years to join the Church. Possibly his wife joining the Church circa 1643, helped William maneuver around the Puritans. Whatever the case may have been, William was not made a “freeman of the Colony” until May 23, 1666. Unfortunately, he never got to use his new found right to vote because he fell ill in 1666, and died June 30th 1667. Sources: “The Cheney Genealogy” by Charles Henry Pope, 1897. “Customs and Fashions in Old New England” by Alice Morse Earle, 1893. “A Short History of the English Colonies in America” by Henry Cabot Lodge, 1881.

Margaret had a breakdown after William died. In the Church records of the time, Reverand S. Danforth noted that “Margaret Cheany widow having been long bound by Satan under a melancholick distemper, (above 10 or 11 yeares) which made her wholly neglect her Calling & live mopishly, this day (24 Mar 1673) gave thanks to God for loosing her chain & confessing & bewailing her sinful yielding to temptation” () Des pite William’s careful provision for Margaret in his will, her widowhood was not with out financial problems. She petioned the court regarding her son Thomas’ treatment of her, to which it responded: “In answer to the petition of Margaret Cheeny, widdow: The Court Orders that Thomas Cheeny her Son pay unto his sd Mother Five pounds in mony every quarter of the yeare, yearely for the improvement of the Estate left by his Father & give her good assurance of her living peaceably with him, otherwise that hee leave the house; the Estate being judged to bee wor th twenty five pound in mony per annum (Suffolk County Court, 749, dated 31 October 1676).


The Cheney Genealogy by Charles Henry Pope, 1897 pg 29

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