A tribute to the life and work of Brian Torode

Hibbs and Cox Families – My Quaker Ancestors


William Hibbs (-1686) and Joane

of Aylburton, Lydney, Gloucestershire




Jonathan Hibbs (1657-1698), Clothier of Aylburton, and Margaret Cox (-1708), daughter of Edward and Hannah Cox of Gaulet, Flaxley



Mary Hibbs (1695-1782) and William Greenwood I (-1792)

of Thornbury




William Greenwood II (1738c-1785) and Mary Taylor (1738-1805c)

Baker of Thornbury




Elizabeth Greenwood (1763-1814) and James Eley III




Thomas Eley and Sarah Park




James Eley IV and Anne Shield




Ernest Edward Eley and Emily Yarnold









Much nonsense has been written about William Hibbs; some biographers, claiming to be American descendants, have hailed him as a Christian martyr who was burnt at the stake. Whilst such claims are utterly absurd, William Hibbs was certainly a noted Quaker and he undoubtedly suffered for his faith. He and his family lived in the tything of Aylburton near Lydney, in the Forest of Dean. There would appear to be connections with Coleford and, in 1634, one Richard Hibbs held the tenure of a messuage and garden there.   William married Joane and the births of their children, between 1655 and 1668, are recorded by the Friends’ Meeting in the remote hamlet of Frenchay, some miles east of the River Severn, in the parish of Winterbourne, Gloucestershire.

The first meeting house at Frenchay was finished in 1673 but, before it was erected, ‘a closely-knit group of Friends met each First Day, probably in Hezekiah Coale’s house in Winterbourne. Here in 1654 they began their careful records of births, marriages and deaths, legacies and persecution.’ (From Dorothy Vinter – ‘The Friends Meeting House, Frenchay’ 1963)

Friends also met to the west of the River Severn and these included William and Joane Hibbs. The records of the Frenchay Monthly Meeting include a page recording the births of the children of friends from Aylburton. These family names include Hopkins, Grindall, Morgan and Hibbs.

‘Jonathan Hibbs, his birth ye 26 of July in ye yeare 1657

Sarah Hibbs the daughter of William Hibbs was borne the first day of the first month called March 1660.

Jane Hibbs her birth ye 14 of ye first month 1655.

Hannah Hibbs ye daughter of William Hibbs was born ye Eleventh day of the eleventh month 1662.

Joseph Hibbs his birth ye 10 of 10th month 1668.

The birth of Williiam Hibbs the 23 of the first month 1665.

The birth of Mary Hibbs in … 1659.’

Jim McNeill has written in his Bristol Radical Pamphlet, ‘The Quakers’, that the first Quakers arrived in Bristol in 1654 and that one of the first Bristolians to join them was Denis Hollister, an MP in the previous year’s ‘Barebones Parliament’ and future father-in-law of William Penn. By 1660, he says, around 1,000 of the City’s population of 20,000 had embraced Quakerism.

This Quaker expansion led to hostility from Anglican clergy after the Monarchy was restored in 1660. Office holders were required to take an oath of allegiance to the Crown and, as the Quakers were unable to swear oaths, this led to the Quaker Act of 1662 which made it illegal for them to refuse. Continued contravention led to the Conventicle Act of 1664 which forbade those who would not take the oath to meet together in worship. However, Quaker Meetings continued quite openly and, as a result, they were subject to further penalties.  The 1689 Toleration Act – An Act for Exempting their Majestyes Protestant Subjects dissenting from the Church of England from the Penalties of certaine Lawes – finally ended this period of persecution for the Quakers.

On and off then, William and Joane Hibbs, together with their friends and relatives, were subjected to fines and persecution for their religious affiliation. As early as 1660, we know that he and his wife came into conflict with the Incumbent at Lydney as there are references to this in ‘A Collection of the Sufferings…’

I have sought to include as many references to William Hibbs from contemporary publications as I can find but I have chosen to alter some of the spelling and punctuation. These include extracts from the famous work, ‘A Collection of the Sufferings of the People Called Quakers, for the Testimony of a Good Conscience, from the Time of Their Being First Distinguished by That Name in the Year 1650, to the Time of the Act, Commonly Called the Act of Toleration, Granted to Protestant Dissenters in the First Year of the Reign of King William the Third and Queen Mary, in the Year 1689. Taken from Original Records and Other Authentick Accounts,’ by Joseph Besse. (1753) Also, before 1753 the Quaker year began with March – called the First Month – and this followed through the winter to February in the following year – the Twelfth Month.

‘Anno 1660. ‘And Jenkin Hopkins, reproving the Priest at Staunton for his pride, was, by him, struck in the face. At this time, one Hopewell Fox, priest of Lydney, was remarkable for the violence of his temper. When Stephen Hubbersty asked him before his hearers whether he was a Minister of Christ, he answered, “I scorn to tell such a rogue as you are” and presently laid violent hands on him, thrust him out of the place and threw him down to the ground. At another time, William Hibbs, asking him the same question, he came out of his pulpit, and in a rage laid hands on William, thrust him into a pool of water and dirt, and when he came out again threw his hat into the same and, with much violence and fury, kicked him on the belly saying that if he had a rapier he would have run him through.  Out of their his servant also ran a pitchfork into William Hibbs’s foot, so that he was not able to go nor rise from the ground without help. The same priest took William Hibbs, John Woodroof and William Grindall out of their houses and kept them in an alehouse till he sent for an officer to carry them to prison. On this occasion Hibbs again asked him, whether he was a minister of Christ, he answered “I am”, and ran violently upon him and strove to pull him to the ground. After this the bailiffs carried them all three to Gloucester Gaol where they were put among thieves and malefactors. After this Joane Hibbs (probably the said William’s wife) testifying against the deceit and wickedness of the said Hopewell Fox, he came with a staff in his hand to beat her but was prevented by one of his own hearers. Another woman…’


Later that year, in the eleventh month (January 1660/61), we read:


‘In this month  a constable and others came to the home of John Woodroofe in Ailburton and took from the meeting there both men, women and children and keeping them two days and two nights, after which they carried them before two justices of the peace who dismissed the women and children but used the men hardly, one of the justices striking William Hibbs on the head and the other bidding the Constable set him in the stocks all night. On the morrow they were conducted to the Sessions at Gloucester, and there for refusing the oath were committed.


The names were …. William Hibbs, … John Cox … John Cox Junior …’


Seventeen years later William Hibbs was still suffering at the hands of the authorities and we find further reference to him in ‘The Cry of Oppression and Cruelty inflicted upon divers innocent people by William Gibson, Quaker of London – A further account of the Sufferings of People called Quakers in the Forest of Dean, in the County of Gloucester, upon the late act against conventicles; by these and such like proceedings of the cruelty of the merciless is made manifest’

‘John Gaynor of Coleford in the County aforesaid, for being at meeting to worship God in the aforesaid town was fined twenty five shillings for three several meetings (viz) the first meeting being upon the seventh day of the eighth month (16)77, the second upon the twenty first of the eighth month 77, the third meeting being upon the eighth day of the tenth month 77 …


… William Hibbs of Aylburton, in the County aforesaid, for being at the same meeting to worship God, was fined the sum of twenty shillings; and by warrant from the aforesaid justice directed to Richard Brown, Constable, who came with other officers the last day of the tenth month 77 to take distress, and the said William not being at home, John Mills, Overseer of the poor, violently broke open his son Jonathan Hibbs, his shop door, and took as much cloth of linen and woollen, that was worth twelve pounds and upwards for the fine of twenty shillings imposed upon his father…. Account taken on 22nd day of the 11th month (16)77 by Henry Lloyd, Jenkin Hopkin, William Hibbs, John Hibbs, William Howel, John Gwyn.’


It seems plausible that John Hibbs of Coleford and his wife, Margaret, may be brother and sister-in-law of William Hibbs. In 1690 the Quakers registered a meeting house at ‘Cover in Newland’ (Coleford).

In 1678 further fines were imposed upon the members of the Meeting at Coleford and goods to the value of £38 were seized collectively from John Gwyn, William Hibbs, Henry Lloyd and Henry Howel.

Finally, in 1685, there is a record of William Hibbs being subjected to further fines.


We know that Joan Hibbs and her husband, William Hibbs, were in attendance at the wedding of John Gwyn and Elizabeth Floyd in 1671.

William Hibbs compiled his will in 1685 and he died on the sixth day of the third month (May) of 1686 (although a casual glance at the Frenchay entry might suggest 1680). Details of his death were recorded by the members of both Ross and Frenchay Meetings.


His Will: “I William Hibbs of the tything of Aylburton in the parish of Lydney in the county of Gloucester. By those present make my last will and testament: this 25th of March 1685 in manner and form following: First I bequeath my Soul onto the Almighty God in whom through merits of my redeemer Jesus Christ I hope to be saved, and my body to the earth.


 I leave to my son Jonathan Hibbs this my now dwelling house and land, late in the possession of the Widow James, upon consideration that the said Jonathan do pay or arrange to be paid unto my son William Hibbs and Joseph Hibbs the full some of forty-five pounds and before the said Jonathan do enter and take possession of the aforesaid establishment;.


I do also order that my beloved wife Joane Hibbs shall hold, occupy and possess and enjoy the aforesaid establishment during her natural life if she outlives me before my son Jonathan do take it. I do so order and appoint my wife to be my Executrix:


I give my daughter Jane that part of my goods that is now in her possession and to my daughters Mary, Sarah and Hannah I give all the rest of my goods and chattel and household stuff whatsoever now is their possession, and to be equally divided between the three sisters.


I do order my two trusty and well beloved friends Richard Smith and Robert Langly both of Nailsworth in the County of Gloucestershire to be my overseers in trust to see this will executed and performed according to the true purpose and meaning hereof.




William Hibbs and witnessed by William Hicks and John Mayow

The overseers of the will, ‘the trusty and well beloved friends’ Richard Smith and Robert Langley were prominent members of the Nailsworth Meeting and Winefred Page has written about them in her ‘First hundred years of Nailsworth Friends Meeting 1655 to 1755.’:

‘One of the early Friends was Richard Smith who became a highly respected member of the Meeting he “had been a soldier for many years, but soon after friends came about he was convinced and layd down his Arms, and came and dwelt at Naylesworth”


‘On the 17th March 1660, a Justice of the Peace went to Nailsworth with soldiers and arrested eleven Friends “some from their houses, others from their business in the street and some from a meeting”. They refused to take the Oath of Allegiance and they were sent off to Gloucester Goal – Robert Hall, Robert Langley, Robert Silvester, Richard Smith, William Beale senior, William Beale junior, John Wakeley, Daniel Brown, Benjamin Deane, William Wilkins and William Penly.’


William Hibbs, Richard Smith and Robert Langley would have been imprisoned together in Gloucester at that time.

The children of William and Joane Hibbs:

Jane Hibbs born 14th day of the first month of 1655. She is mentioned in her father’s will of 1685.

Jonathan Hibbs (Great VII Grandfather) was born on 26th day of July 1657

Mary Hibbs born 1659. She is mentioned in her father’s will of 1685.

Sarah Hibbs born 1st day of the first month 1660. She is mentioned in her father’s will of 1685.

Sarah Hibbs was present at her brother, Jonathan’s, wedding in 1689 and also at another wedding in 1693. She died on 6th February 1702 and this event was recorded by the Monthly Meeting at Frenchay.

Hannah Hobbs born 11th day of the eleventh month of 1662. She is mentioned in her father’s will of 1685.

Hannah, daughter of William Hibbs of Aleburton, married Henry Hobbs, a carpenter, on 14th November 1692 in Bristol and this marriage was duly noted by the Bristol Monthly Meeting.

Henry Hobbs seems to have established the Limekiln Lane Pottery in about 1706 which he ran until his death in about 1723. The pottery was built on the site of a walled garden adjoining Brandon Hill and, from 1707 he was exporting earthenware to Cork, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbados according to research carried out by Reg Jackson on the Bristol Potteries.

See Lime Kiln Pottery 1:


Their nephew, Jonathan Hibbs became their apprentice on 22nd October 1710.


William Hibbs was born on 23rd day of the first month of 1665. He is mentioned in his father’s will of 1685. A William Hibbs was buried on 5th February 1710 at St Michael’s Hill, Bristol.

Joseph Hibbs was born on 10th day of the tenth month of 1668. He is mentioned in his father’s will of 1685.



Jonathan and Margaret Hibbs, Great VII Grandparents

Jonathan Hibbs was a Clothier from the tything of Aylburton in Lydney Parish, born on 26th day of July 1657 (Records of Frenchay Monthly Meeting). In 1677 his shop at Aylburton was broken into by John Mills, Overseer of the Poor, and seized linen and woollen cloth to the value of twelve pounds.

Jonathan was mentioned in his father’s will of 1685.

We know from the records of the Frenchay Monthly Meeting that Jonathan Hibbs married Margaret Cox. The couple declared their intention on the 20th day of the 12th month of 1688 at the home of Joseph Cooter (?) at Elton and they married in the company of relations and friends on the 7th day of the second month of 1689. Jonathan was described as living at Aylburton and Margaret was from Gaulet in the parish of Flaxley.


Cox Family of Gaulet, Flaxley


Margaret may well have been a daughter of Edward Cox, a Quaker of Gaulet in the Parish of Flaxley. Five nonconformists were listed for Flaxley in 1676.

His wife was probably the Hannah Cox and an Edward and Hannah were present at a wedding in Newland in 1671.  We also know from the records at Frenchay that Hannah, wife of Edward Cox, was buried on the first day of the eighth month in 1682.

An Edward Cox was a witness at Margaret’s wedding in 1688 and Edward and his daughter, Hannah Cox, attended another wedding in 1693.

Interestingly, but not necessarily connected, John, Katherine and Jane Cox were present (along with William and Joan Hibbs) at the wedding of John Gwyn and Elizabeth Floyd in 1671, This   couple had earlier announced their intention of marriage in John Cox’s house at Albirton (sic).

Edward Cox’s daughter, Hannah Cox, married Simon Gillman, son of Simon Gillman of Minchinhampton in 1699. Simon stated his intention to marry at Nailsworth on the 13th day of the twelfth month in 1699. Again, this intention was stated at Coolford on 21st day of the twelfth month, Edward Cox being a signatory. Finally, Simon and Hannah married at the meeting house at Elton in Westbury Parish on 20th day of the first month of 1699. Edward Cox was present and made his mark and Simon Gillman Snr. was in attendance also. In Westbury Parish Church   marriage register we find ‘Mar 20th Simon Gilman and Hannah Cox of Gaulet, Quakers’ Hannah, wife of Simon Gillman was buried on 30th day of the 8th month in 1702.

Edward Cox was buried on the fifteenth day of the first month of 1709.


Jonathan Hibbs was buried on the 12th day of the second month of 1698 and Margaret was buried on 28th day of the third month of 1708. Similarly, these details were recorded by Frenchay Meeting.

The children of Jonathan and Margaret Hibbs:

Margaret Hibbs born 19th day of the first month 1691 (Frenchay)


Mary Greenwood (Great VI Grandmother) was born on 13th day of the seventh month 1695, the daughter of Jonathan and Margaret Hibbs. Details of her birth were recorded by the Frenchay Monthly Meeting. Jonathan Hibbs of Aylburton married Margaret Cox of Gayleff in the parish of Flaxley in 1689 (Frenchay).

Jonathan Hibbs born 4th day of the eleventh month 1697. A Jonathan Hibbs became an apprentice of Henry and Hannah Hobbs, his aunt and uncle, at their Lime Kiln Pottery on 24th October 1710.

On 17th day of the fifth month of 1721 Jonathan Hibbs, described as a Potter of the City of Bristol, married Deborah Jotcham, daughter of Samuell Jotcham, a deceased butcher of Frampton, Gloucestershire, at Bristol and this event was recorded by the Monthly Meeting. The couple had declared their intention on the 5th day of the fourth month and this had been published on the thirtieth day of the same month.

Jonathan had an apprentice, Richard Fudge, who was indentured on 24th October 1710 and, by the time that Richard was given in 1739, Jonathan Hibbs had died. See:

We also know that Jonathan, the son of Jonathan and Deborah Hibbs, was baptised at the Parish Church of St Michael on the Mount in Bristol on 5th May 1730.


Elizabeth Hibbs daughter of Jonathan Hibbs was born on 15th January 1685 at 8 o’clock (Frenchay)



Mary Greenwood (Great VI Grandmother)

Mary Hibbs was born on 13th day of the seventh month 1695, the daughter of Jonathan and Margaret Hibbs. These details were recorded by the Frenchay Monthly Meeting. Her father, Jonathan Hibbs of Aylburton, had married her mother, Margaret Cox of Gayleff in the parish of Flaxley, in the year 1689 (Frenchay).

Mary was involved with Thornbury Friends’ meeting. From 1674 to 1847 the Thornbury Quakers had their own meeting hall in St John Street where the Quakers celebrated the births of their children and their marriages and where, from 1720 onwards, many of their dead were buried.

In 1717 Mary Hibbs was mentioned in the will of John Thurston, Mercer of Thornbury, who died in 1722. Another beneficiary of John Thurston was his nephew John Thurston, baker and fellow Quaker.

On 7th April 1719 Mary Hibbs married John Thurston, baker, at Thornbury Friends’ Meeting House. He was a son of Jonathan and Susannah Thurston, bakers of Thornbury. John was registered on 22nd April 1698 at Thornbury. John was described as a baker and he died on 14th October 1720 and buried in the Friends’ Burial Ground at Thornbury.

On 29th July 1735 the wedding took place between William Greenwood and Mary Robbins at St Michael’s Church in Bristol.

The will of Anna Thurston, widow of Thornbury, dated 26th November 1741, refers to a legacy of three pounds for Mary Greenwood to be paid within a year of her death and of four pounds for Mary’s son, Richard Robins, to be paid when he reached the age of twenty-one-years. If he were to die beforehand this sum was to pass to Mary Greenwood, his mother.

ON 29th June 1743 the un-named child of William and Mary Greenwood died and this is recorded in the register of the Quaker Meeting House in Thornbury.

A John Greenwood was buried on 2nd July 1743 at Thornbury Parish Church and Ann Greenwood was buried on 10th October 1745 also at St Mary’s Thornbury. Were these Children of William and Mary Greenwood?

William and Mary took their child William, the Younger, to Thornbury Parish Church for baptism on 29th December 1745. The register suggests that he was about ten years old.

William Greenwood I was Mayor of Thornbury from 1744-1746 and again in 1754/5.

Mary Greenwood was buried in the burial ground of the Friends’ Meeting at Thornbury during 1782 and her husband, William Greenwood, was buried ten years later on 6th June 1792 at Thornbury Parish Church aged seventy-nine years.

The Public Record Office holds a document which records the following details:


To John Longdon, Grave Maker. The 26th Day of the Third Month 1782


Make a Grave on or before next Fourth day in the Friends Burying Ground at or near Thornbury and therein lay the Body of Mary Greenwood, Wife of Wm Greenwood, Baker of Thornbury in the County of Gloucester, aged about 87 years; who died the Twenty Fourth Day of the Third Month called March, One Thousand Seven Hundred  and Eighty Two. John Gaynor.


The body above mentioned was buried the Twenty Seventh Day of the Third Month called March.


Witness of the Mark of John Longdon, Grave Maker.


This event draws to a close the Quaker connections with my family.



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