Thomas Vincent (d1607) The Vincent Tomb John Vincent (c1591-1646) John Vincent (c1630-1710)
Thomas Vincent (1634-1678) Nathaniel Vincent (1638-1697) Sir Matthias Vincent (c1644-1687)


The Vincent family lived at Battens, the farm just to the east of North Hill churchtown, from about 1580 to 1710. The image to the right shows Battens as it was towards the end of the 17th century (click to enlarge).

How the Vincent family came to North Hill is uncertain. In his book "Trebartha - The House By The Stream" Bryan Latham writes:

"The Vincent family seat was at Stoke Dabernon in Surrey. A Vincent married an heiress from the Batten family in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and so got possession of Battens. ... Tradition has it that in the reign of James I a Vincent wife eloped, taking with her all the family jewels, and misfortune overtook the family."

As can be seen on the transcript of document #149 of The Cartulary of Launceston Priory, as discussed on the page about Battens, the surname of Batyn/Battens seems not have lasted long after the end of the 14th century and there is no mention of a Vincent family. The marriage of a Vincent to a Battens descendant seems unlikely. If the tale of the elopement has any foundation this is likely to have been one of the daughters of Thomas Vincent shown on the tomb in St Torney's Church.

The Vincent arms shown here were originally the arms of the Vincent family from Stoke d’Abernon in Surrey. The Vincents in North Hill were fined by the Earl Marshal's Court for falsely bearing these arms. Had there been no connection between the families it is unlikely that the Surrey family would agree to the arms being used even, presumably, for a fee, under licence. The Vincent family in Cornwall could be a cadet line. There is a possible connection between the two families which can be traced, in part, through the Acland family.

click for the 1620 Visitation of Cornwall


Thomas Vincent (died 1607)

Thomas Vincent was a landowner, farmer and attorney at law. He married Jane Lampen in the early 1580s and they had fifteen children. Jane's mother was Jane Lower, whose family lived at Padreda in Linkinhorne.

The family are shown here on the tomb of Thomas and Jane Vincent. Jane and their daughters are kneeling on the left facing the centre. The eldest daughter is shown as a child with a skull above her head indicating her death. Her name is not known to us but she may have been named Jane after her mother, her maternal grandmother and great grandmother. Her stature on the tomb would indicate that she died before she attained the age of her next two younger sisters. The youngest child was born about 1601 and also named Jane, presumably after the death of the first Jane. Re-using names in this way was not an uncommon practice. The birth of this fifteenth child may have been a contributory cause to the death of the mother. Similarly, the fifth son is also shown to have died. None of the sons were omitted from Thomas' will in 1603 but this fifth son, probably Methuselah Vincent, appears to have died after the 1603 will but before the tomb was erected in 1607 or 1608.

Thomas was a very religious man with a deep love for his wife and family. These extracts from his will demonstrate his character and beliefs:

"... And therefore doe desire nowe Almightie God to graunt me his grace so to Dispise sinne and all worldy vanity that I maie saie with the blessed Appostle Saint Paule, The world is crucified to me, and I to the world, Christe is to me life, and to Dye is my gaine and advantage. I desire nowe to be loosed, and to be with Christ ...
"... not longe since in that it pleased Almightie God (to my greate discomfort) to call unto himselfe, out of this myserable and wreched world my deare and loving wife, with whome I lyved many yeares in peace and love, and had (god be thanked) plentifull fruite of the married life ...
"... I require all my said younger sonnes and Daughters that they be loving unto there said eldest brother, and not to grieve or overthwarte hym, But to lyve peaceablye in all godlynes and honestie. But if it shall happen that any unfit dealing or usage fall onto or be offered by or betweene myne executor and any of his brother and sisters, towithinge or concerning any thinge mencyoned or intended in and by this my, present will and testament, that then I will in treate the overseers of this my will hereafter nominated, that they wilbe pleased to hier and Deteryne the controversies betweene them. And what order they or the moste parte of them shall thinke fytt and Determyne of. I wishe and Require To be observed accordinglie."

His son, John, inherited his ardent love of the family, God and the Church as will be seen below.

Upon the death of Thomas Vincent senior in 1606 the estate passed to his son, Thomas Vincent junior. Shortly after inheriting the estate, Thomas was the defendant, along with others, regarding a dispute over Smallacombe. This was an area of the moor in the north east of the parish beyond Trewortha. As part of the defence, Thomas' Uncle John interceded on Thomas' behalf. This action, and the references in his father's will regarding the assistance that was to be given to Thomas in the exercise of his adminstrative duties, point towards Thomas being in need of occasional help in complex matters, perhaps because he was young and inexperienced.

Thomas jnr survived five years as the squire of Battens. His will dated 29th June 1612 was ‘nuncupative’ meaning that it was spoken, recorded by another person and unsigned, presumably because he was dying and unable to sign his name. We learn from the will that he was 'wounded' but this may mean an injury rather than something acquired in conflict. Nuncupative wills were not an uncommon practice at this time. Thomas appears to have had no family as no wife or children are mentioned in the will; his wishes were:

Memorandum That on the xxixth (29th) day of June in the six and fortieth year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James and in the year of our Son [of] God 1612. Thomas Vincent of Northill in the County of Cornwall, Gentleman, being sick and wounded but of perfect mind and memory do make and declare his last will and testament nuncupative in manner and form following, viz: First he committed his soul to Almighty God his maker and redeemer. Then he gave and bequeathed to Catherine his eldest sister the sum of fifty pounds. Item he willed left and bequeathed all things which he had whatsoever to John Vincent his brother in the same manner as his father left them unto him. And he also made [the] [a]foresaid John Vincent his sole heir and executor and willed that he should see the legacies performed in the presence of John Vincent the elder, Catherine Vincent, William Vincent and others.


The Vincent Tomb

The Vincent family are remembered by the unique and elaborate incised slate tomb in the north west corner of the nave of St Torney’s Church shown below. IN earlier times it stood in the chancel. It is likely that Thomas Vincent senior began the process of commissioning the tomb upon the death of his wife in 1602 [this was before the calendar change when the new year began on March 25th explaining why the tomb gives the date of 1601] and the process was finalized by his sons Thomas and John. The dedication which is on the table section of the tomb reads:

“Here lye the bodies of Thomas Vyncent, Gentleman and Jane his Wife, by whom he had issue 8 sonnes and 7 daughters. He departed this life ye 29th March 1606. She ye 7th of Januarie 1601.”

It also has a Latin inscription as follows:

lugeat ista legens qui sunt lugenda legenda
lectaque lectori causa dolores erunt
prospera per charo recumbant cum coniuge consors
atque prior moritor motuus alater erat
amplexere simul viventes et morientes
vixerunt domino ac occubuere deo

cur mortem auctis mortalis
mors meditanda est
non metuenda tibi
sed metuenda malo

heres defuncti perculsus amore parentum

hoc opus exiguum sic cumulavit humo


Thanks go to Mary Rose Rubie for this translation

Mourn those who are gathered to grieve these remains
At the chosen occasion of the reader they will be sorrowful.
Uplifted by the beloved, reclining with kindred spouse
While forefathers will have passed away with wings
To embrace both the living and the dead
They lived and lie dead entrusting in the Lord God.

For what reason is human death agonized?
Death is to be reflected upon
Not to be feared by you
But to be feared by evil

The distraught successor to the deceased with the love of his parents

Turns this poor being, thus, into the earth

Thomas Vincent


The upper part of the back plate shows an angel stamping on death and a serpent indicating the victory over evil.

Also on the back plate Death is pictured holding a scythe and a dart, pictured right. Below him kneels Thomas Vincent and his wife with their sons and daughters.

Elements of the Danse Macabre are not uncommon on tombs. Sophie Oosterwijk writes of Thomas Vincent’s tomb in Death and Danse Macabre Iconography in Memorial Art:
“It is not difficult to find other monuments across the country on which the personification of Death is presented in the act of despatching his victim with his dart, especially in the post-Reformation period. The slate monument to Thomas Vincent (d. 1606) at North Hill (Cornwall) shows the deceased and his family kneeling on either side of the central figure of Death, unusually with the men on the right and the women on the left. Death points his dart at the paterfamilias while holding a scythe in his left hand with a serpent entwined around it. The serpent might be a reference to the Fall of Man, but is more probably another example of ‘verminous’ imagery that we find in many danse macabre prints. It is very likely that the sculptor modelled the convincing anatomy of Death on a contemporary print, especially as his execution of the kneeling figures is so poor by comparison.”

The front panel of the tomb shows three coats of arms, two with crests;

Lampen (left) - argent, on a bend engrailed sable, three ram’s heads cabossed of the field attired or

Vincent (centre) – azure, three quatrefoils argent

Lower (right) – sable, a chevron between three roses argent


John Vincent (c1591-1646)

John Vincent was the second son of Thomas and Jane Vincent who were laid to rest in the elaborate slate tomb in St Torney’s church. John is depicted on the carving as the second son, kneeling behind his father and elder brother, Thomas (d1612).

John was born about 1591. In his listing amongst the alumni of Oxford University, John was described as a Gentleman. As a young man he was sent up to New College, Oxford University and matriculated from there on the 15th December 1609 when 18 years old. He moved as a student to Lincoln’s Inn in London in 1612 and was described there as ‘the son and heir of Thomas Vincent of Northill, Cornwall’. It was probably here that he took holy orders and became the Reverend John Vincent. He was awarded his BA from Trinity College Cambridge in 1626 and three years later he earned his MA.

Being about 21 years old when his elder brother, Thomas, unexpectedly died, John inherited Battens but his relgious ardour drove him to spend his life in pursuit of his beliefs rather than farming in Cornwall. This would have meant that for large periods of time he was absent from Battens. It is possible that he had a farm manager and derived income from the farm as well as his stipend. It is also possible that one of his younger brothers, possibly George, managed Battens on his behalf.

John married Sarah Jerrome in St Luke's Church, Chelsea, Middlesex in 1629 by licence issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The biographies (from the Alumni of Oxford University) of his sons Nathaniel and Matthias record that they were two of seven siblings. In fact there were eight; in 1639 a baby named George was born and died in North Hill as an infant but has not been counted in the family number. The second and third sons, Thomas and Nathaniel, acquired their father's religious fervour and became preachers in the puritan tradition. The youngest son, Matthias, was something of an adventurer and seemed not to be as religiously motivated as his father and elder brothers. The children of John and Sarah were:

According to the entry on "A Puritan's Mind" website John was "beneficed in Cornwall. Of nonconformist leanings, he was driven there by his bishop, as well as from so many other livings that it was said no two of his seven children were born in the same county [this has not been proven to be correct]. Coming to London in 1642, he was nominated by the committee of the Westminster assembly to the rich rectory of Sedgefield, Durham, but died after holding it but two years, in 1646. His widow, Sarah Vincent, petitioned on Nov. 1, 1656 and in April 1657 for £60. which her husband had lent to the parliament".

His sojourn in most places was usually short. He was rector of Helmingham in 1633 and in 1635 he was vicar of Framsden, both in Suffolk. Between these dates his son, Thomas, was baptised in Hertford. The appointment of a John Vincent as lecturer to St James in Dover on the 21st March 1642 may well have been this John Vincent. His last position was as the rector of Sedgefield in 1643 after this benefice had been sequestered by Parliament. He remained there until his death in 1646. St Edmund’s, Sedgefield is pictured here (image taken by Jonathan Clegg).


John Vincent (c1630-1710)

John (c1630-1710) inherited Battens in North Hill when he was about 16 years of age, upon the death of his father. Initially supported by another member of the family, probably his Great Uncle George Vincent (c1600-1662), John farmed the land until his own death in 1710. He married twice. His first wife was the spinster Mary Spoure (1627-1662), whom he married in North Hill in 1661. They had a daughter, named Mary about whom nothing else is known. It is likely that baby Mary's birth contributed to the death of her mother just a few months later. Mary Spoure was the sister of Edmund Spoure's father, Henry, and Edmund recorded Mary's marriage to John Vincent in heraldic form in The Book of Spoure (right). In 1688 John was one of the chosen coffin bearers at the funeral of ten year old Henry Spoure.

John's second wife was an Elizabeth. They married about 1660 but details of her family and the location have not survived. Elizabeth died in 1677, shortly after the birth of their last child. John died in 1710. Both were buried at St Torney's, North Hill. They had the following children, all of whom were baptised and buried in St Torney's, North Hill:

  • Mary Vincent was baptised in 1662 and died either as an infant or in childhood
  • John Vincent was baptised in 1664 and died when 5 years old
  • Elizabeth Vincent was baptised in 1666. She married Arthur Acland, as shown in the family tree shown near the top of this page. Apon Arthur's death around 1707, Elizabeth and her children were involved in a dispute in Chancery over Arthur's personal estate. This case involved John Vincent, probably because he provided a dowry on Elizabeth's marriage and this formed part of Arthur's estate. Elizabeth died in London in 1733 and was buried there in St Antholin's Churchyard.
  • Sarah Vincent was baptised in 1674; when her father died in 1710 the estate passed to her; she had married Theodore Darley about 1695 and Battens thenceforward became the seat of the Darley family; Sarah died in 1737 and Theodore died in 1743; Battens then passed to their eldest son, Vincent Darley (1703-1764)
  • Thomas Vincent was baptised in 1673 and died shortly after his second birthday
  • John Vincent was baptised in 1676 and was about fourteen months old at his death

Perhaps John was prompted into resolving his own affairs by his involvement with his daughter, Elizabeth's, dispute with her children. In 1708 John put in place a legal instrument to safeguard his immediate future, the medium term future for his daughter, Sarah, and the longer term future of his grandchildren. John lived in Battens with Sarah, her husband Theodore Darley and their children. John transferred the ownership of his property to his friends Stephen Revell and Robert Coombe for Sarah's "support and livelihood". The friends would have been trustees and it was their responsibility to ensure that Sarah was properly financially maintained. The property transferred was:

"Moiety [part share] of manor of Trewithie, and half the moiety of manor of Rillaton Peverell; moiety of tenement of Battens, Adacroft, Bowda, North Hill churchtown, Treswell, Tresellern, Lanxton and Trekernell in North Hill and St Juliot; also one part of Twelve Men's Moor".

This ensured that his estate was not wholly lost to the family. Depending upon circumstances it may have been possible for the feuding Aclands to lay a claim, it may have been possible for any future husband of his daughter Elizabeth to make a claim and even for John's own nephews and nieces to make a claim - but not now he had given away his estate. As far as is known, John left no will and died intestate. His daughter, Elizabeth, was supposed to administer his residual estate but failed to do so, as there wasn't much apparent need any more.

When Elizabeth Acland died in London it was left to her sister, Sarah Darley, to deal with Elizabeth's and John's estates but she didn't. When Sarah died her husband Theodore was supposed to deal with Sarah's estate and by extension, Elizabeth's and John's estates as well. Inertia struck and he didn't. It wasn't until Theodore died in 1743 that his son, Vincent Darley started the process of tidying up this legal morass. This led to or exacerbated disputes within the Darley family that were to take decades to resolve.


Thomas Vincent (1634-1678)

Thomas' biography has been taken from the "A Puritan's Mind" website:

Thomas Vincent (1634-1678) was an English Puritan Calvinistic minister and author. He was the second son of John Vincent and elder brother of Nathaniel Vincent (both also prominent ministers), was born at Hertford in May 1634. After passing through Westminster School, and Felsted grammar school in Essex, he entered as a student at Christ Church, Oxford, in 1648, matriculated 27 February 1651, and graduated with a B.A. March 16, 1652, and an M.A. June 1, 1654, when he was chosen catechist. Leaving the university, he became chaplain to Robert Sidney, 2nd Earl of Leicester. In 1656 he was incorporated at Cambridge. He was soon put into the sequestered rectory of St. Mary Magdalene, Milk Street, London (he was probably ordained by the sixth London classis), and held it till the Uniformity Act of 1662 ejected him.

He retired to Hoxton, where he preached privately, and at the same time assisted Thomas Doolittle in his school at Bunhill Fields. During 1665, the year of the Great Plague of London, he preached constantly in parish churches.

He said of the Great Fire of London (1666), "And if Monday night was dreadful, Tuesday night was more dreadful, when far the greatest part of the city was consumed: many thousands who on Saturday had houses convenient in the city, both for themselves, and to entertain others, now have not where to lay their head; and the fields are the only receptacle which they can find for themselves and their goods; most of the late inhabitants of London lie all night in the open air, with no other canopy over them but that of the heavens: the fire is still making towards them, and threateneth the suburbs; it was amazing to see how it had spread itself several times in compass; and, amongst other things that night, the sight of Guildhall was a fearful spectacle, which stood the whole body of it together in view, for several hours together, after the fire had taken it, without flames, (I suppose because the timber was such solid oak,) in a bright shining coal as if it had been a palace of gold, or a great building of burnished brass."

His account of the plague in "God’s Terrible Voice in the City by Plague and Fire," 1667, is graphic; seven in his own household died. Subsequently he gathered a large congregation at Hoxton, apparently in a wooden meeting-house, of which for a time he was dispossessed.

He was among the signers of the 1673 Puritan Preface to the Scots Metrical Psalter. He did not escape imprisonment for his nonconformity. He died on October 15, 1678, and was buried (October 27) in the churchyard of St Giles-without-Cripplegate. His funeral sermon was preached by Samuel Slater.


Nathaniel Vincent (1638-1697)

Nathaniel was baptised in North Hill in 1638. At the time his father and the family were moving from parish to parish because his father's puritan teachings did not generally meet the approval of the parishioners. Nathaniel was, like his father John and brother Thomas, a non-conformist minister. He achieved some notoriety for his beliefs and was imprisoned several times. Some of his treatises were written whilst imprisoned.

His story is told in greater length and accompanied by a list of his treatises on the Digital Puritan website from whence his image has been taken.

Nathaniel also features in the “Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 58 page 360” an extract from which is shown, right.

Nathaniel died at his home in Hoxton just outside London and was buried in Bunhill Fields cemetery in Moorgate, London on the 29th June 1697. In 1665 the City of London Corporation decided to use some of the fen or moor fields, known as Bunhill Fields in Finsbury to this day, as a common burial ground for the interment of bodies of inhabitants who had died of the plague and could not be accommodated in the churchyards. The burial ground attracted mainly dissenters from the Established Church who were of a Protestant persuasion, partly owing to their much larger numbers in the locality. The entry below has been taken from the registers of St Leonard’s in Shoreditch.


Sir Matthias Vincent (c1645-1687)

The following has been taken directly from The History of Parliament

“Vincent’s grandfather, an attorney, married an heiress and rebuilt Battens in [North Hill, Cornwall]. His father, who inherited the estate, was disclaimed at the heralds’ visitation of 1620, and prosecuted in the court of chivalry for usurping the arms of the Surrey family. He then took orders, but being ‘unconformable in divers degrees’ could obtain no benefice before the Civil War and was much harassed by the bishops, so that it is said that his seven children were born in seven different dioceses. Vincent’s eldest brother became a fellow of All Souls in 1654, but presumably returned to Cornwall at the Restoration. Two other brothers lost their livings at Bartholomew and thereafter kept conventicles on the outskirts of London. Vincent himself was accepted as a factor by the East India Company in 1661, and achieved rapid advancement, due in part to his linguistic ability. His wife, the daughter of a high company official by a Goanese mistress, brought him ‘a great quantity of riches, goods and chattels’. She was an ardent Roman Catholic, but despite this embarrassment and the usual charges of corruption, immorality and extortion Vincent reached the summit of his career in India as chief in Bengal in 1676, and it was only when his niece married Thomas Pitt, leader of the interlopers, that he lost the confidence of the board. Orders were given for his arrest in 1681, but he took refuge in the Dutch factory, returning unscathed and enormously wealthy in 1683 on board one of Pitt’s ships.

“One of the first nabobs, Vincent lived in princely style. As treasurer of the Sons of the Clergy, he was knighted by James II soon after his accession. Six weeks later he was elected for Lostwithiel, but he took no known part in Parliament. Doubtless a court supporter, he was nominated alderman of London in 1686, but died in the following summer. In a codicil to his will witnessed by William Wake (the future primate) and Nicholas Courtney on 17 May 1687, he committed his sons to the guardianship of their uncle, the nonconformist minister. But he refused to act and the will was proved on 5 June by his widow, who had left her husband ‘upon some real or feigned grounds ... of his familiarity with another, ... carrying with her great quantities of his gold and jewels’. By the time Hals came to write his account of the family his wealth was ‘for the most part ... spent or consumed’, and none of his descendants entered Parliament.”

Matthias' somewhat nefarious dealings are recorded in the "The Diary of William Hedges Esq (1681-1687)" edited by Colonel Henry Rule.


The images at the top of the page show (L-R): Vincent family arms; skeleton detail from the Vincent tomb in St Torney's Church, North Hill; backplate of Vincent tomb.