By James Pylant
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St. Briavel’s Castle, above the River Wye and on the western edge of the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, was originally built between 1075 and 1129. Extensive repairs were made to the structure in 1376, and receipts show expenses given for one Roger Pylond, janitor (doorkeeper), going and returning for a carriage of lead from Worcester to Bristol, and thence to St. Briavel’s. Where Roger Pylond originated was not indicated, only that he stayed at the castle for forty days to superintend the works and artifacts.Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaelogical Society for 1878-9, Vol. III (Bristol: the society, 1879), p. 337. On 2 August 1370, he and John Monke, among ten other men, gave oaths at an inquisition at the hospital of St. Leonard in Bristol.1 The appearance of John Monke’s name suggests a connection to Pilland estate in Devonshire. The Le Moyne family, ancestors of the Pyllonds, changed their surname to Monke.
In the spring of 1522, during the reign of Henry VIII, a survey was made to provide the British with information about military preparedness in anticipation of war with France. The survey would serve as a muster of able men, an inventory of the availability of armor and weapons, and a tax valuation to secure revenue for the war. Gloucestershire, one of the few existing county schedules, reported two villages, Tockington and Elberton, with inhabitants surname Pilond and Pylond. Excluded are surveys for the cities of Gloucester and Bristol, which are no longer extant.
In the village of Tockington, lived Joan Pylond, widow (possessing 20 shillings), and Thomas Pylond (possessing 40 shillings and a sword). In the hamlet of Elberton, a listing was given for John West and Joan Pilond, with £4 and a sallet.2
The will of Henry Pyland of Hull, in Gloucestershire, probated in 1544, identified his siblings as Isabel Pyland, Richard Pyland, and George Pyland. Others name in the will were wife Margery, whom he appointed executrix, and Alice Bacon and John Howell.3 He and his wife apparently had no surviving children together. She was formerly Margery Matowe, a widow, with two children from her previous marriage. Margery Pyland died in 1558.4
In Olveston Parish, a mile south from Elberton, deeds show the name Pyland and an earlier spelling Pilande. One Richard Pyland married Margaret Tanner on 20 February 1560 in Olveston Parish, Gloucestershire.5 Olveston is three miles southwest from Thornbury, where one Agnes Pilande married Thomas West on 21 July 1571.6
Bridget Pyland married into the prominent Prynne family (pronounced prin), merchants in Bristol. She was the second wife of Erasmus Prynne, gentleman, of Aust, a manor and hamlet in Henbury Parish, Gloucestershire. Bridget Pyland Prynne was the step-grandmother of William Prynne (1600—1669), the famed lawyer, author and politician.7
William Simons of Oldbury-on-Severn, Gloucestershire, appointed Thomas Key, John Piland and John Wyther as overseers of his will in 1574.8 On 30 April 1580 John Pillande of Wolbury-upon-Severn made his last will and testament and named his son, Edward Pillande, as his sole executor, while appointing Edward Baker, Thomas Henning, and John Smith as his overseers.9 Edward Pillande was at least twenty-one years of age in 1580 since he served as executor of his father’s will. In 1597 Edward Pilande and John Smyth of Olveston were appointed overseers by Edward Baker of Tockington to his last will and testament in 1597.10 One Edward Pylande settled in Bristol by 1599, though he was likely a generation younger than Edward Pillande (son of John). Further genealogical research may eventually reveal a kinship between the two Edwards.
- [Anonymous], Abstracts of Gloucestershire Inquisitions Post Mortem: Returned into the Court of Chancery in the Reign of King Charles the First (London: British Record Office, 1914), p. 64.
- R. W. Hoyle, ed., The Military Survey of Gloucestershire, 1522 (Bristol: The Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, 1993), pp. ix, xii-xiii, 23, 139.
- “The Wills of Gloucestershire: Abstracts of Gloucestershire Probate Records,” online, willsdb.gukutils.org.uk/GLS/WillsP.html, accessed 29 December 2013.
- W. P. W. Phillimore, ed., Gloucestershire Parish Registers. Marriages. Vol. XIV (London: Phillimore & Co., 1908), p. 71.
- Ibid. (1909), p. 7.
- Frederic William Weaver, ed., The Visitations of the County of Somerset in the Years 1531 and 1573, Together with Additional Pedigrees, Chiefly from the Visitation of 1591 (Exeter: the editor, 1885), p. 126.
- Gloucestershire Probate Records, online, genuki.org.uk/big/eng/GLS/Thornbury/THY1568-76.html, accessed 18 August 2012.
- Last Will and Testament of John Pillande of Wolbury-upon-Sutton, Glos., PROB 11/62, National Archives, Kew.
- Leslie Mahler, Gloucestershire Probate Records: Abstracts from Wills 1540-1619, for Alveston, Elberton, Littleton on Severn and Olveston, online, genuki.org/uk/big/eng/GLS/Olveston/OLVI1540-1619.html, accessed 23 June 2012.