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In the summer of 1998 we visited England. One of the main purposes of this visit was to find more evidence of the existence of John Pickering, born 1615, near Coventry. We spent the first night in Stratford on Avon and the next day we drove the short distance to the rather large city of Coventry. The map that we had was not adequate, but we managed to find the, which had been destroyed in the bombing of World War II. After visiting the Cathedral we asked the way to the library. On the third floor we found the antiquities' section and on the Microfiche we found the record of John Pickering, baptized in 1615. There was no further record of his father or his mother. When we went to the history section of the Warwick County Records office, we also found in the records of the Holy Trinity Church that on October 10, 1563 one Leonard Pickering, son of John, was christened. We also found the christening of Phanabelle Pickering, daughter of John, on August 25, 1566. On August 17, 1630 John,son of John and Prudence Pickering,  was



Covington Cathedral

also christened.  That was all that we  found in  the  Holy  Trinity records under Christenings, Marriages, or Deaths. Of course, many of the notations that we did find were after John had left to go to America, which he did in 1634 at the age of nineteen.   Our conclusion is that the records of the family of our John Pickering were either from another parish, that they were destroyed in the World War Bombing, or that they are to be found in Saint Michael's Guild Hall records.


We stayed ten days in Hasely Knob, about ten miles south west of Coventry. This is an area of gently rolling hills through which the river Avon flows on the way to Stratford on Avon. Flowers grow abundantly everywhere. We had the opportunity to go down to the Avon River and watch the canal boats going through the locks. These are huge pleasure cruising boats that go all over the river system. We did have some good weather, but one can expect a lot of rain and coolness here, even in the summer time.


John was born and lived in Cheylesmore (pronounced Charlesmore), which is a suburb of Coventry. Our bed and breakfast was  only about  eight miles from where he grew up. On the   way  back  one  Sunday afternoon we stopped in a gas station in the middle of Cheylesmore and found ourselves in a well-developed suburb, which I am sure had no resemblance to the small village known by John. Three hundred years can make a difference anywhere. When John was born England had just closed the Elizabethan age. The "virgin" queen had ruled for forty-five glorious   years.    Shakespeare  and  his   plays




A Coventry Pub - 1615

were known everywhere. The Bard's town of Stratford was only thirty miles to the south. James I had just come to the throne. In 1611, four years before John was born, the Authorized Version of the Bible, which we now know as the King James Version of the Bible, was just being printed.

King James died on March 27, 1625. John was ten years old at this time. Charles I, who succeeded him, had a very austere and reserved manner. The result was to cut the monarchy adrift from any popular support. The country was still at war with Spain. In 1626 the crown jewels were pawned and the following year Charles made over most of the crown lands to pay off the royal debts. This represented the end of the medieval kingship for, when the lands went, the king no longer had anything of his own.


On August 23,1628 the prime minister, Buckingham, was assassinated. John was now 13 years of age and he knew that the country was in turmoil. Tension between Charles I and the Parliament grew rapidly. In 1629 the King resolved to avoid war by ruling without Parliament and embarked on a decade known as the Personal Rule. A kind of civil war had begun which ultimately resulted in clashes between the Royalists and the Gentry under Cromwell. During the Civil War people of royalty were pitted against the gentry.

John must have seen the problems coming because he left in 1634. Not only that, but he gave his address as New Gate, which was really not an area where people lived. We speculate that this might have been done to disassociate himself from his royal background, which we might assume he had come to detest.

Six years after John left the area of New Gate in Coventry; the Kenilworth Castle and many other places were destroyed and blown up by Cromwell. The nation was engaged in Civil War.


A visit to  the Baddsley Clinton house,  which was near by to our little bed and breakfast, took us directly back to the time when John lived in this area. Set off on a winding back road about twenty miles from Coventry, the moated manor still retains its great fireplaces, 17th century paneling and the secret chamber used for hiding the priests during the time of the persecution of the Catholics. It was used by the Ferrers family. Henry Ferrers (1549-1633) inherited the place in 1564 and was Squire for nearly seventy years. He was born in the time of the  reign  of Edward VI  and  lived   through the   reigns  of  Mary  I,   Elizabeth  I,   James  I,




Baddesley Clinton Manor

and died when Charles I was on the throne. Most importantly, he lived from the time that Gilbert Pickering acquired the manor at Tichmerch to the time that John was ready to leave for America.

King William I's conquest of England in 1066 crushed and imprisoned the occupants of England and William, to provide for the manning of his strongholds, granted the confiscated lands in return for their guarantee to supply armed knights. These grants, called units, were most often scattered through several shires. Collectively, each group of lands was called an honor and each honor consisted of several smaller units, which were called manors. It was one of these manors that Gilbert Pickering acquired. In order for this to occur, a person had to be of the nobility, which Gilbert was, and he was granted a special crest. This crest is very different from the Pickering Family crest. We could well infer that Gilbert was either a great grandfather or a great uncle of John. It is thought that Gilbert became a member of the aristocracy by virtue of the fact that he was a descendent of Edward III (1327-1377). We do know that Edward sired twelve children. He also had numerous illegitimate children.


In order to ascertain the possibility of a relationship between our family and that of Edward III, we visited the place in Coventry where the old  Cheylesmore Manor  Gate was located. Sure enough, we found that Queen Isabella had purchased the manor following the death of her husband, King Edward II.  Edward II had come to the throne in    1307 at the  age of 23. He was tall and good looking, but his chief disadvantages were that he liked to do the type of work usually undertaken by peasants,  like hedging,  ditching and plastering. He married Isabella of France and had four children  by her.   He  suffered   defeat




Cheylesmore Manor Gate

at the battle of Bannockburn.   This hastened his ruin. What really was against him, however, was the fact that he openly liked men more than women. The story is told of his Prime Minister rushing home and, with arms wide open, running toward the royal couple. Isabelle opened her arms and the Prime Minister ran straight to the arms of the king. Edward II turned against the queen, who left England with her son, Edward, the Prince of Wales, and went to live in France. The king shortly was taken to Kenilworth Castle and a deputation was sent to him to tell him that he was no longer king. Edward fainted with grief and agreed to resign provided that his son, Edward III, could succeed him.

Following his death, Queen Isabella went into an enforced retirement at Cheylesmore Manor, near Kenilworth, and spent her time reading romances and eventually she became a nun.

Edward III ruled England for over half a century as an ideal king. He transformed Windsor Castle into Camelot and married Philippa of Hainault in 1328. From Queen Isabella Edward III inherited the Plantagenet Lineage.

Edward III's brother, known as the Black Prince because of the color of his armor, galloped his horse all over the area of Cheylesmore Manor and he evidently lived in the area for some time. It would be thought that some of the other children, recognized or not, might also have been included in this entourage. We also find that in 1380-1394 the fourth son of Edward III, John of Ghent, spent much time with his wife at Kenilworth Castle, rebuilding the Inner Court on a palatial scale. His son, King Henry V, had a pavilion built at the far end of the great marsh.


We also visited  Kenilworth Castle,  which was a few miles to the north east of  where  we were staying. This is also an important place in the history of the family and it was only a few miles from where John lived and grew up. Though it is now in ruins because it was destroyed in the Civil War, this occurred after John had left for America so he knew it as a place where royalty had been well entertained. When King Henry VIII died in 1547, he left three pale faced and fair haired children. Edward VI, age nine years, succeeded the king. He was precocious, self righteous and down right cruel. At first he  found  an  ally  in  Edward  Seymour,




Kenilworth Castle

his uncle, Duke of Somerset. In October 1540 Somerset was arrested and sent to the tower and the power passed to John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, the owner of Kenilworth Castle. He became the Duke of Northumberland and his ambitions knew no bounds. It was he who would have been empowered to grant Gilbert Pickering the right to own a manor. Tichmerch was probably situated very near to Coventry, being in the same place as the little village of Titchmarsh, which is near Kettering about seventy-five miles east of Coventry near the junction of A605 and A14. The manor was purchased by Gilbert Pickering in 1550. The granting of the manor and the power of the Kenilworth Castle owners would have occurred during the time of John's great grandfather, about sixty years before John was born, so the influence issued to the family had a great deal to do with the castle. Again, this castle was only about six miles from where John and his family lived.

On July 6, 1553 Edward at last died and John Dudley had Lady Jane Grey pronounced Queen four days later. It was a wildly unpopular move. Mary, daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, fled to Suffolk, where she was proclaimed queen and John Dudley and Jane Seymour were executed for treason. Mary proclaimed Catholicism as the state religion and married Charles V's son, Phillip. When she died on Nov. 17, 1558 "all the churches in England did ring."

Elizabeth I, daughter of Henry VIII by Anne Boleyn followed Mary. She reigned for forty-five years during the very happy time known as the Elizabethan age. She reigned from 1558 to 1603. Put in perspective, this was only a few years before John was born. In 1568 Robert Dudley, son of the ill fated John Dudley, regained Kenilworth Castle. He was so high in the favor of Queen Elizabeth that it was rumored that the two might marry. Elizabeth's most famous visit to the castle was in July of 1575, when the Queen was entertained for nineteen days at enormous expense. There were special fire works and much feasting. As I looked around at the red stones of ruined castle, I thought it might have been very likely that some ancestor had a part in this royal occasion.

When we left the area, I felt that we had come to know the era in which our nine times great grandfather, John Pickering, had lived. We also became very familiar with the landscape in the area and with the places that he might have frequented. The Guild Hall in Coventry goes back to his time. This was one of the places that a carpenter might have visited.

We concluded that we had a very wise man in our forefather. He knew when it was time to leave and seek his fortune in a new land. We do not know for sure if he was married at the time he came to America, but we do know that he either came with money or achieved it quite rapidly.

Thank you, John, for coming so that we all could be born in the land of the free and the home of the brave.