"Honour thy father and thy mother" says the old commandment. Yes, and thy grandfather and grandmother too. Why stop there? Why not thy grandparents with several 'greats' as far back as you can go? Genealogy is a time-honoured pursuit. It enables us to find out what makes a person 'tick'. Perhaps in this scientific age it should be called 'genesealogy'. It is interesting to note that two of the Evangelists record the genealogy of Jesus of Nazareth including its dubious characters, presumably because it was important for his followers to know the origins of his humanity. St. Paul says that the purpose of God in creating the cosmos was ultimately to produce you and me! (Ephes.1:4) It helps us to know who his agents were in accomplishing this - our forebears 'warts and all.'
This article is about three 'mixed-up' families: Hutchyns, Tyndales and Trotmans. I am of the opinion that the Hutchynses and Tyndales constitute two distinct families. There is also a fourth family involved, the Berkeleys of Berkeley Castle, but they are not connected as the others are by blood relationship. Down the years there were several marriages between the three families, which is not surprising seeing how they lived cheek by jowl for so long. For instance, in 1570 Anne Tyndale married Thomas Trotman of Stinchcombe at Cam. Their daughter Alice in 1592 married Giles Hitchings of Cam, also at Cam. This proves that Hutchyns and Tyndale were not alternative names for the same family. In the early parish registers of Cam church are numerous entries of the families of both Hychins and Tyndale.
The story starts, for our purposes, in Somerset in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries at Bruton and Pylle where the Berkeleys had lands, places with which Trotmans were also connected. John Smyth, the steward and historian of the Berkeleys (and Dugdale testifies to his fidelity) asserts that Richard Trotman was living in that area in the reign of Edward II. The name Trotman is beginning to be found in Gloucestershire at that time. It is a reasonable supposition that it was in the service of the Berkeleys that Trotmans moved into Gloucestershire and settled in the Breadstone-Stinchcombe area where, as tenants of the Berkeleys they held lands as Berkeley tenants 'in tail' for generations. Mutatis mutandis the history of the Huchyns family followed the same lines. Huchyns was a typical Somerset name, yet it too begins to appear in Gloucestershire. In 1414 Walter Huchyns is recorded as holding five acres of land in Cam. Perhaps they too were in the Berkeley service. Certainly in 1519 Edward Huchyns was appointed Receiver General of the Crown Revenues for the Berkeley Manors. Walter Huchyns was living forty years before the start of the Wars of the Roses when the name Tyndall first appears in the county.
It seems to have been by the name of Huchyns that William Tyndale's family was known when he was born. Perhaps that's why the exact date of his birth has not yet been found. He went up to Oxford under this name, took his degree there, and under it was ordained priest. In his first edition of the Obedience of a Christian Man he calls himself William Hychins. In subsequent editions he is ‘William Tyndale otherwise called Hychins’. How did his family come to have two surnames? The answer can possibly be found in a letter (Rudder's Gloucestershire, pp. 756-7) from Thomas Tyndale of Kington St Michael to his cousin Thomas Hychins-Tyndale of Stinchcombe:
I have heard that the first of your family came out of the North in the time of the Wars between the Houses of York and Lancaster, at what time many of good sort (their side going down) did fly for refuge and succour where they could find it. That it was your predecessor his fortune to come into Gloucestershire, changing his name to Huchyns, that afterwards he married there and so having children, did before his death declare his right name and from whence and upon what subject he came thither, and so taking his own name did leave it unto his children, who have continued it, as it was fit they should. This I have heard from your good father himself.
The letter was dated Feb. 3rd 1663. It seems likely that the 'predecessor' changed his name to Huchyns because he had clandestinely married a woman of that name and raised a family. The children, in an effort to honour their mother as well as their father, adopted both names.
Another link between two of the families occurred when William Tyndale's niece Katherine, daughter of brother Edward, married Richard Trotman of Cam. They had a son Edward, whose tombstone on the north side of Cam church records it. They are the grandparents with eight 'greats' of the writer of this article, who can therefore claim William Tyndale as an uncle with ten 'greats'.
I should like to raise one further possibility. William Tyndale's mother may have been a Trotman before her marriage. Brother Edward left a will, still extant, dated 1540, in which he mentions his cousin Edward Trotman of Slymbridge. This means there must have been a Tyndale-Trotman marriage in a previous generation. Whereas this maiden Trotman could have been an aunt or grandmother, she could equally well have been the mother of William. The problem of his parentage remains to be solved. Not even B.W.Greenfield in his genealogy of the family of Tyndale gives the names of his parents. The answer, like the date of his birth, will probably only be found in the fourteen volumes of Berkeley Castle records now housed in the Berkeley village library.
© Anthony E F Trotman