The Family of Capt. Robert Pyland (1623-1670)

By James Pylant
Copyright © 2013 All rights reserved
Do not post or publish without written permission

In 1614 Richard Piland (or Pylande), butcher of St. Clement Danes, London, was a witness in the prosecution of Robert Walker’s assaulting Robert Piland (Richard’s son) in the highway with the intent to rob him. Walker was found guilty, fined £20, and sent to prison.1 A year earlier, in October 1613, John Flynwood and Michael Harryson, both yeoman, were found guilty of stealing a sheep worth 10 shillings from Robert Pyland at Paddington. A prosecution witness was Alexander Sweeper, a butcher in St. Clement Danes, London.2 Two years later Sweeper became his brother-in-law by marrying Robert’s sister, Elizabeth.3 In December 1616 Richard Compton was suspected of stealing sheep belonging to Alexander Sweeper and Robert Pyland, butchers in St. Clement Danes.4

Robert Pyland signed as a witness to the will of Tobias Goodwine of “St. Clement of the Danes in the countie of Midd. [Middlesex], Poulterer [poultry man].” The document was not dated, but it was proved in the Archdeaconry of Middlesex on 9 January 1609/10.5

Robert Pyland and his wife were parents to at least nine children, including a son named Robert, christened 19 August 1593.6 Two deaths struck the family days later, on 25 August, with the loss of their newborn son7 and a servant, Elizabeth Taylor.8 In 1596 Robert Pyland and his wife had another son, also named Robert, who was baptized on 12 December of that year.9 Raised in the St. Clement Danes neighborhood of London, he was a third generation butcher. On 1 March 1621 he married Agnes Layt,10 whose first name was pronounced Annis. One of their four children, Robert Pyland III, born in 1623,11 immigrated to the Colony of Virginia.

A few weeks following his twenty-fourth birthday, Robert Pylande acted as clerk of court at a session held at Deep Creek, Norfolk County, Virginia, on 6 October 1647. Among those present was Mr. William Rabnett,12 who would appear with Robert in Boston, Massachusetts, almost a year later. On 9 September 1648, Robert Pyland and William Posgaite signed as witnesses of William Rabnett’s bill to David Selleck for “two thousand five hundd pounds of good sound merchantable tobacco in leafe & Caske.”13

Captain Pyland served Warwick County as a burgess in 1647.14 He received a land grant in the Northern Neck by order of the General Court on 9 October 1655.15 On 2 January of the following year, Robert Pyland and William Jones witnessed Henry Waldron’s will in York County.16 He was still in York County two years later on 19 October 1659 when he, with William Barbor, Robert Baldrey and John Hansford, was audited Edward Lockey’s account for the guardianship of Francis Morgan.17

Captain Pyland apparently died sometime around 1670 in Virginia. He left a last will and testament, which is no longer extant; however, court documents identify heirs, including a sister, Jane Michael of London. Since she had remarried, her new husband, Dr. John Gurgany, requested Susan Gibbs, Robert and Jane’s aunt, give a deposition explaining that Jane Michael and Jane Gurgany were the same person. This statement, sworn in August of 1671, was supported by a deposition by 71-year-old Rebecca Bateman of Shoreditch, near London, who was a cousin to Robert and Jane’s father. A published transcription of this record mistakenly gave their surname as England rather than Pyland;18 however, the marriage record of Susan Gibbs clearly shows her maiden name was Pyland.19 Furthermore, Susan Pyland’s christening record indicates her birth occurred in November 1599,20 which agrees with her age, 70, as stated in the deposition in August of 1671.

Another heir to the estate of Captain Pyland was the wife of Richard Whitaker of Virginia. Although the exact relationship is not stated, Whitaker’s wife was probably Captain Pyland’s widow. In September 1672 the Gurganys sued Whitaker over the captain’s estate. The Gurganys’ attorney, William Boage, successfully convinced the court to order Richard Whittaker, “whose Late wife enjoyed during his life and he in Right of her pt [part] of the estate of said Capr Robt Pyland,” present a perfect account of what he possessed in right of his wife, “and also what and how much.”21

John Gurgany, Jane Pyland’s second husband, was a doctor of divinity, as stated in the 1670 deposition. Not unlike James Pyland, the Virginia burgess, Dr. Gurgany was a Royalist supporter, and he suffered for that allegiance. Formerly the rector of Clapham, Surrey,22 Gurgany was later chaplain to Queen Henrietta and her family at Merton College from the time of their arrival in 1643 until the surrender of Oxford three years later, at which time the register in which he had recorded christenings, marriages and burials was confiscated by soldiers. As Gurgany wrote in 1662, “in what Truncke that Registry is I cannott gesse, All things at ye Surrender of Oxford being huddled up into Truncks & boxes, whereof some have not been opened these 16 yeeres.”23 The surrender at Oxford brought John Gurgany’s banishment and he was forced to go abroad, not returning until the Restoration. In 1660 he petitioned King Charles II for an appointment for the next vacant prebend (a stipend) of Westminster, Windsor or elsewhere, explaining that his since his banishment he had been ill and dependent on friends. His petition stated that “he is left in his old age in great poverty and distress.” Mary, Duchess of Richmond and Lenox and “numerous noblemen and gentlemen” testified on his behalf about his services as chaplain at Merton as well as navy chaplain.24

While at Merton College, Gurgany authored a biography of his friend, entitled Short Account of the Life and Death of Mr. John Gregory, M.A.25 Dr. Gurgany died 1 September 1673.26 Jane Pyland Gurgany sold her husband’s manuscript to Archbishop Sancroft, who wrote on the first leaf, “bought of Dr. Gurgenie’s widow.”27 In December 1678 “Jane Gurgany of London, widow” sold a 250-acre tract called Quarraluh in Melbury Island, Warwick County, Virginia, to James Hire, the property was described as “formerly the land of her brother Robert Pyland.”28

(All events occurred in St. Clement Danes, London, unless otherwise indicated)

Richard Pyland, butcher of St. Clement Danes, London; wife unknown.
Their child:

  • Robert Pyland, butcher; wife unknown.
    Their children:
  1. Richard Pyland, christened 13 January 159129 — buried 3 November 1636.30 He married (1) Tabitha Penn in 1619 in London, Holborn, St. Giles-in-the-Fields Parish,31 She was buried on the anniversary of her daughter’s burial, 22 January 1624;32 In 1625 he married (2) Mary Ambrose in Holborn, St. Giles-in-the-Fields Parish.33
    Child by first marriage:

    • Jane Pyland, christened 12 January 162234 — buried 21 February 1622.35
    • Tabitha Pyland, christened [date unknown] — buried 22 January 1623.36
  2. Katherine Pyland, christened 9 July 1592.37
  3. Robert Pyland, christened 19 August 159338 — buried 25 August 1593.39
  4. Jane Pyland, christened 4 August 1594.40 She married William Fooks on 21 September 1612.41
  5. Agnes Pyland, christened 29 September 159542 — died 2 October 1595.43
  6. Robert Pyland, christened 12 December 1596.44 On 1 March 1621 he married Agnes Layt.45
    Their children:

    • Margaret Pyland, christened 23 April 1622.46 d
    • Capt. Robert Pyland III, christened 14 September 162347 — died ca. 1670, Warwick County, Virginia.
    • Jane Pyland, christened 30 March 1625.48 She married (1) Henry Michael in 1651 in Holy Trinity the Less, London49 and (2) Dr. John Gurgany, who died in 1675 in Surrey.
    • Elizabeth Pyland, christened 2 February 1626.50
  7. Elizabeth Pyland, christened 9 April 1598.51 She married Alexander Sweeper on 13 July 1615.52
  8. Susan Pyland, christened 18 November 1599.53 She married Walter Gibbs on 3 April 1624.54
  9. Thomas Pyland, christened 4 January 1600.55
    1. William Le Hardy, ed., County of Middlesex. Calendar to the Sessions Records: New Series, Vol. 2, 1616 — 18 (London: Centre for Metropolitan History, 1936), p. 59.
    2. Ibid., Vol. 1 (1935), p. 298.
    3. Alexander Sweeper and Elizabeth Piland, Westminster Marriages, 1615, p. 159; online image,
    4. Le Hardy, County of Middlesex, Vol. 4 (1941), p. 46.
    5. Frank Farnsworth Starr, English Goodwin Family Papers (Hartford, CT: privately published, 1921), p. 616.
    6. “Robart Pyland, son of Robart,” Westminster Baptisms, 1593, p. 28; online image,
    7. “Robert Pyland, ye Sonn of Robart,” Westminster Burials, 1593, p. 213; online image,
    8. “Elizabeth Taylor, ye Servant Mr Robart Pyland,” Westminster Burials, 1593, p. 213; online image,
    9. “Robart Pyland, sonne of Robart,” Westminster Baptisms, 1596, p. 32.
    10. “Robert Piland & Agnes Layt,” Westminster Marriages, 1623, p. 162.
    11. Robert Pylande, son of Robert and Anne, Westminster Baptisms, 1623, p. 80.
    12. Alice Granbery Walter, Book “B,” Lower Norfolk County, Virginia, 2 November 1646 — 16 January 1651/2 (Virginia Beach, Va.: the author, 1978), record no. 53.
    13. Boston Registry Office, A Volume Relating to the Early History of Boston Containing the Aspinwall Notorial Records (Boston: Munincipal Printing Office, 1902), p. 166.
    14. Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography, Volume I (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1915), p. 309.
    15. Margaret M. Hofmann, “Landed Gentry,” Genealogy Today, Vol. 1 (15 September 1983), No. 18, p. 2.
    16. William A. Crozier, ed., Virginia County Records, Vol. VI (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., repr. 1971), p. 16.
    17. Beverly Fleet, Virginia Colonial Abstracts, Vol. XXVI: York County, 1648-1657 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1961), p. 88.
    18. Peter Wilson Coldham, Lord Mayor’s Court of London: Depositions, 1641 — 1736 (Washington, DC: The National Genealogical Society, 1980), p. 26.
    19. “Walter Gibbes & Susan Piland,” Westminster Marriages, 1624, p. 164.
    20. “Susan Pyland, daughter of Rabart,” Westminster Baptisms, 1599, p. 34.
    21. H. R. McIlwaine, Minutes of the Council and General Court of Colonial Virginia, 1622 — 1632, 1670 — 1676, with Notes and Excerpts from Original Council and General Court Records, into 1683, now Lost (Richmond: The Colonial Press, 1924), pp. 306-307.
    22. British Archaelogical Association, Journal of the British Archaelogical Association, Vol. XXII (1866), p. 129.
    23. Sylvanus Urban, The Gentleman’s Magazine and Historical Review, Vol. I (January — June 1865), p. 587.
    24. Mary Anne Everett Green, ed., Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series, of the Reign of Charles II, 1660 — 1661, Preserved in the State Paper Department of Her Majesty’s Public Record Office (London: Longman, Green, Longman & Roberts, 1860), pp. 261, 346.
    25. John Peter Bernard, Thomas Birch, and John Lockman, A General Dictionary, Historical and Certical: in which a new and Accurate Translation of that of the Celebrated Mr. Bayley Vol. V (London: MDCCXXVII), p. 550.
    26. Journal of the British Archaelogical Association, Vol. XXII, p. 129, gives the death date.
    27. Thomas Tanneri, Catalogus Codicum Manuscriporum, Bibliothecae Bodleian Codices, Vol. 4, pp. 8-9.
    28. Coldham, Lord Mayor’s Court of London: Depositions, 1641 — 1736, pp. 56-57.
    29. Richard Pyland, Westminster Baptisms, 1591, p. 26.
    30. Richard Pyland, Westminster Burials, 1636, p. 336.
    31. Richard Piland and Tobitha Penn entry, Boyd’s Marriage Index, 1538 — 1840 (Society of Genealogists), online transcription,
    32. “Tabita Pylande, wife of Richard,” Westminster Burials, 1624, p. 224.
    33. Richard Piland and Mary Ambrose entry, Boyd’s Marriage Index, 1538 — 1840, online transcription,
    34. Jane Pylande, daughter of Richard and Tabitha, Westminster Baptisms, 1622, p. 77.
    35. Jane Pylande, daughter of Richard, Westminster Burials, 1622, p. 270.
    36. Tabitha Pylande, daughter of Richard, Westminster Burials, 1623, p. 274.
    37. Katherin Pyland, daughter of Robart, Westminster Baptisms, p. 27.
    38. Robart Pyland, son of Robart, Westminster Baptisms, 1593, p. 28.
    39. “Robert Pyland, ye Sonn of Robart,” Burials: 1593, Westminster Burials, p. 213.
    40. “Jane Pyland, ye daughter of Robart,” Westminster Baptisms, 1594, p. 28.
    41. “Willyam Fooks and Jane Pyland,” Westminster Marriages, 1612, p. 157.
    42. “Annis Pyland, daughter of Robart,” Westminster Baptisms, 1595, p. 30.
    43. “Annis Pyland, daughter of Robart,” Westminster Burials, 1595, p. 216.
    44. “Robart Pyland, sonne of Robart,” Westminster Baptisms, 1596, p. 32
    45. “Robert Piland & Agnes Layt,” Westminster Marriages, 1621, p. 162.
    46. “Margaret Pyland, daughter of Robart,” Westminster Baptisms, 1622, p. 75.
    47. “Robert Pylande, son of Robert and Anne,” Westminster Baptisms, 1623, p. 80.
    48. Jane Piland entry, “England, Births and Christenings, 1538 — 1975,” online,, accessed 29 December 2012.
    49. Henry Michell and Jane Piland entry, Boyd’s 1st Miscellaneous Series, 1538 — 1775 (Society of Genealogists), online,
    50. Eliz Pyland, daughter of Robart and Anne, Westminster Baptisms, 1626, p. 91.
    51. Elsabeth Pyland, daughter of Robart, Westminster Baptisms, 1598, p. 22.
    52. Alexander Sweeper and Elizabeth Piland, Westminster Marriages, 1616, p. 159.
    53. “Susan Pyland, daughter of Rabart,” Westminster Baptisms, 1599, p. 34.
    54. “Walter Gibbes & Susan Piland,” Westminster Marriages, 1624, p. 164.
    55. Thomas Pyland entry, “England, Births and Christenings, 1538 — 1975,” online,, accessed 29 December 2012.