Or, Subtitled: London, Ships, and Colonial Virginia
At the end of my previous posting, I told you that, since there were two Richard Nottinghams living and doing business at the same time in Stepney in the east end of London in the early 1600s, an uncle and his nephew, it’s important to distinguish these two men from each other, as we try to unravel the ancestry of Richard Nottingham (abt. 1620-1692), the immigrant ancestor of the Northampton County, Virginia, Nottingham family. As my previous posting explains, a researcher of the Nottingham family in England, Cedric Nottingham, proposes in his monograph “The Nottingham Surname: The Virginian Connection” that the Virginia Richard Nottingham is son of the younger of those two Richard Nottinghams living in Stepney in the early 1600s, a Richard Nottingham born in 1587 in Ipswich who appears to have died in Stepney in the 1640s.
As my last posting also indicated, Cedric Nottingham states that baptismal records in Ipswich (he gives no more specific source) show the uncle of the Richard Nottingham who was born in 1587 being baptized in Ipswich in 1546, son of Robert Nottingham (abt. 1490-abt. 1560) and wife Ursula. Robert and Ursula’s son Robert (1543-1616) was the father of the Richard Nottingham born in 1587, who was a merchant in Stepney in the early 1600s.
Richard Nottingham (1546-1626) appears to have been established in Stepney by 1598, since on 26 July 1598, he witnessed the will of William Burroughe of the parish of Stebenhethe (i.e., Stepney), County Middlesex, England. Another witness of this will was Joseph Pett, a surname we’ll find frequently connecting to the Nottingham family of Stepney — a connection that is one of the legs on which Cedric Nottingham stands his case for concluding that Richard Nottingham (1587-1640/165) was father of Richard Nottingham, the Virginia immigrant.
The executors of the will of William Burroughe included Sir Henry Palmer, whose representative Thomas Browne was among those proving the will on 28 November 1598. William Burroughe/Burroughs (1536-1598) was Controller of the Queen’s Navy, who was connected to Francis Drake and in 1587 participated in a raiding expedition by the English on Spain spearheaded by Drake. The Elizabeth Burroughes of Ratcliffe whom George Bartlett of Stepney received license to marry on 5 March 1603/4 — I noted this document in my last posting — was a daughter of William Burroughe’s brother Stephen, and is named in William Burroughe’s will.
So in the period just before and after 1600, we find two documents showing a close connection of Richard Nottingham (1546-1646) of Stepney to a Burroughe/Burroughes/Burroughs family with a significant role in the English navy in the late 1500s and early 1600s — a connection shared by Joseph Pett, who also witnessed the will of William Burroughe. Joseph Pett (d. 1605) was a son of Peter Pett (1540-1589), master shipwright of the Royal Navy at Deptford in Kent. Joseph himself became a master shipwright of the Royal Navy at Limehouse in the east of London prior to his father’s death in 1589 and continued in that capacity up to his death in 1605.
Joseph Pett was a half-brother to the Mary Pett who, according to Cedric Nottingham and his team of family researchers, likely married Richard Nottingham (1587-1640/1650), a point about which I’ll say more down the road. There was a direct connection between William Burroughe, Joseph Pett, and the Henry Palmer who was an executor of Burroughe’s will, too. As Henry B. Wheatley explains, Sir Henry Palmer succeeded Burroughe as Controller of the Queen’s Navy when Burroughe died in 1598 — something mentioned by Phineas Pett, a half-brother of Joseph Pett, in his autobiography.
Yet another Pett-Nottingham connection: Arthur Pett of Stepney made his will 30 August 1609, stating that his mother was now the wife of Richard Nottingham. The will identifies Pett as master of the ship Unity of London, but sick aboard The Blessing of Plymouth at Jamestown, Virginia, as he made his will. The will also names brothers William Pett and William Welche, wife Florence Pett and daughter Elizabeth Pett. It makes Arthur Pett’s wife Florence executrix along with Thomas Johnson of Ratcliffe, mariner and master of The Lyon of London, then docked at Jamestown. Richard Nottingham was named overseer of the will. Witnesses were Thomas Johnson, Robert Addames, and William Milward. The will was probated 19 March 1611 in the Commissary Court of London by Florence Pett.
According to Cedric Nottingham, the Richard Nottingham (1546-1626) of this document is the uncle of the Richard Nottingham (1587-1640/1650) who, as he has concluded, married Mary Pett and was the father of the Richard Nottingham (abt. 1620-1692) who went to Northampton County, Virginia. In other words, Cedric Nottingham has concluded that both Richard, the merchant of Stepney, and his uncle Richard, who also lived in Stepney, married into the Pett family, with the older Richard marrying a Pett widow whose son was Arthur Pett of the 1609 will.
To my knowledge, Arthur Pett’s exact connection to the family of Peter Pett has not been identified. Arthur Pett’s parents’ names are not known, insofar as I am aware. But as Lothrop Withington states, it seems very likely he is from the same Kentish Pett family to which Peter Pett belongs, since both Arthur and the family of Peter Pett had maritime interests. Withington also notes that Arthur Pett was one of the members incorporated by the second charter of the Virginia Company in 1609: The Nottinghams of Ipswich and London and the Petts of Kent and London were connected to Virginia, that is to say, prior to the arrival of Richard Nottingham in Northampton County, Virginia, in the late 1640s.
Vestry minutes for the parish of St. Dunstan and All Saints in Stepney on 11 April 1615 show Richard Nottingham being elected to the parish vestry on that date; the minutes indicate that his residence was in Ratcliffe. A note that George William Hill and Walter Howard Frere have added here to gloss their transcription of the parish minutes states that Richard Nottingham was clerk of the Trinity House and was buried 10 October 1626. Hill and Frere also note that the Pett family owned shipworks in Limehouse, where they built ships for the Royal Navy.
According to Jane Cox, Trinity House “was a body of great influence that extended its activities to all matters of navigation in coastal waters and provided shelter and pensions for seamen and their families.” The organization grew from a medieval guild, Cox indicates. She states that Richard Nottingham, who was a Stepney churchwarden from Ratcliffe in 1615-6, was Trinity’s clerk 1610-11.
Hill and Frere report that Richard Nottingham was buried in the church of St. Dunstan and All Saints in Stepney on 10 October 1626 is borne out by the parish register, which states that he was clerk of Trinity House.
So an interesting picture emerges as we look at the two Richard Nottinghams, uncle and nephew, found in Stepney records in the late 1500s and early 1600s. Both have strong ties to the shipbuilding and shipping industries, and via those ties, ties to Virginia before Richard Notttingham of Northampton County, Virginia, arrived there in the latter part of the 1640s. Both also apparently have ties to the Pett family, which played a major role in the English ship-making industry of this period.
In my next posting, I’ll talk more about the Petts and why Cedric Nottingham has concluded that they help make the case that Richard Nottingham (1587-1640/1650) was likely father of the Richard Nottingham who was the immigrant ancestor in Northampton County, Virginia, and I’ll also say a bit more about Robert Nottingham (1543-1616), father of the Richard Nottingham born in 1587.
 Henry B. Hoff, English Origins of American Colonists (Baltimore: Genealoglical Publ. Co., 1991], pp. 85-6, citing Prerogative Court of Canterbury, Lewyn 89.
 W.H. Davenport Adams, England on the Sea; Or, The Story of the British Navy, Its Decisive Battles and Great Commanders, vol. 1 (London: F.V. White, 1885), pp. 68, 71.
 See Henry F. Waters, “Genealogical Gleanings in England,” Historical Collections of the Essex Institute 18,4-9 (April-Sept. 1891), p. 66; and the parish register of church of St. Dunstan and All Saints, Stepney, London Metropolitan Archives, in Church of England Parish Registers, 1538-1812 (P93/DUN/264).
 See H. Farnham Burke, “The Builders of the Navy: A Genealogy of the Family of Pett,” The Ancestor, vol. 10 (1904), pp. 148-151; and W. Bruce Bannerman, ed., Miscellanea Genealogica Et Heraldica, vol. 1 (London: Mitchell, Hughes and Clarke, 1906), pp. 215-6.
 See Henry B. Wheatley, Samuel Pepps and the World He Lived in (Frankfurt: Outlook Verlag, 2018), p. 201; and Phineas Pett, The Autobiography of Phineas Pett, ed. W.G. Perrin (London: Navy Records Society. 1918, p. 15), transcribing a passage in the original diary speaking of events on 27 June 1600.
 Peter Wilson Coldham, comp., American Wills Proved in London, 1611-1775 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publ. Co., 1992), p. 1, #1611, citing Guildhall 9172/25.
 Lothrop Withington, “Virginia Gleanings in England,” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 11 (1904), p. 314.
 George William Hill and Walter Howard Frere, ed., Memorials of Stepney Parish: That is to Say the Vestry Minutes from 1579 to 1662, Now First Printed, with an Introduction and Notes (Guildford: Billing & Sons, 1891), p. 68.
 Ibid., n. 1.
 Ibid., p. 203, n. 3.
 Old East Enders: A History of the Tower Hamlets (London: History Press, 2013), pp. 172-3.