Thomas Saunders was born around 1558 in Over Stowey, Somerset, England, southwestern England, UK. Ann Blake was born around the same time, in the same place. They married on August 3, 1573. After their marriage, Thomas and Ann’s church was Lydeard St Lawrence, 20 miles south of Over Stowey’s church. Thomas and Ann had 3 daughters and 4 sons. All the Saunders children were baptized in Lydeard St Lawrence. The church was built in 1350.
Thomas owned land: Preston Close in Woolavington, Northwalk in Chidden Fitzpayne, meadows in Haleswood and land in Chappeoey [Chapel Leigh]. The lands were in Taunton, a town of Somerset[shire] created between the years 500 and 1000 when Saxons divided England into shires with a Shire-reeve or Sheriff. Shires were divided into hundreds, “an area of 100 hides, the ‘hide’ being the amount of land which would support a peasant family, an extended group of several generations, including grandparents as well as married sons and their children”. By Thomas’s time in the 1550s, peasants [not only kings, earls, dukes, etc.] owned and rented out land.
These lands are in Thomas’s will written May 26, 1609. His estate was settled in September 1609, with Ann as executrix and their children named: Agnes, Christopher, Elizabeth, Joan, John, Nicholas, Robert and Thomas. Children and grandchildren received lands and money.
Thomas was buried on June 11, 1609 at Lydeard St Lawrence. Ann probably died shortly after and was buried in the same place.
John Blake was born in 1522 in Over Stowey, Somerset, England about 100 miles west of London. His parents were Humphrey and Ann Blake. For most of his life, John’s King was Henry number 8. Henry VIII, “To six wives he was wedded. One died, one survived, two divorced, two beheaded”.
Like his dad, John was a clothier. In 1545 John Blake married Joan, last name unknown, at St Peter and St Paul Churchyard in Over Stowey. They had 6 children, each mentioned in John’s will.
John wrote his will on November 25, 1576. He gave tenements [rental properties] and lands to his sons. He gave money to his daughters and god children. He gave money to the poor of Over Stowey, Nether Stowey and Spraxton, small villages in Somerset. “Item I gyve and bequeath unto the poore of overstowey tenne Shillinges. Item I gyve and bequeath to the poore of Netherstowey tenne Shillinges. Item I gyve and bequeath to the poore of Spraxton tenne Shillinges” John died in Over Stowey and was buried on December 10, 1576 at St Peter and St Paul Churchyard in Over Stowey, Sedgemoor District, Somerset, England.
John Blake’s granddaughter Elizabeth Saunders migrated to America in 1630. His 6th great granddaughter Leydia Connable Gaines and family went all the way to Bremer County, Iowa, arrived there in 1854.
Humphrey Blake was born about 1494 and died about 1558. Humphrey was the 2nd son of William and ‘seated himself’ at Over Storey, Somerset, England. He married Ann, her last name is unknown, they had several children. Humphrey was a clothier, he turned wool yarns into textile, cloth for clothing, draperies and what not. Humphrey leased a manor Plainsfield, his son John bought the manor. The Blake family church was nearby, St Peter and Paul, there are parish records with births, marriages and burials of the Blake family. The church still stands. The manor, Plainfield in 1890 or so was rented by a tenant and probably just crumbled away. Humphrey’s will dated November 1558 was destroyed in the bombing of England 1940-41 but an abstract or summary survives. He left money to the church for repair and ornament. The will named his children and wife and gave money and/or possessions to each.
Humphrey was buried on December 28, 1558 at St Peter and Paul Church. In the middle passage of the church there is a monumental tablet for Humphrey and Ann. The inscription reads: “Here lyeth the bodye of Humfry Blake of Overstowey clothier deceased, who was buried the 20 day of March Anno Domini 1619 Also Ann, the wife of Humfry Blake, was here interred December ye 11, 1645”. A photo is on this genealogy website: Somerset – Over Stowey, Combe St. Nicholas by Mary Mettler at California Genealogical Society, CaliforniaAncestors.org