This Report describes the research carried out by the Deacon John Done Research Committee of the Doane Family Association of America since the early 1970s.

This research project, aimed at discovering more about the English ancestry of John Done, Deacon of the early church in Plymouth Colony, and the founding father of the Doane family in North America, was begun by researcher Rev Dr Gilbert Doane. Since then, it has been carried on by members of the Committee and still continues to this day. It has followed up a number of clues to the identity of the Deacon first proposed by Dr Doane, when he listed a number of individuals named John Done who lived in England at the relevant time, one of whom could have been the man who went on to become the Deacon.

This research eliminated from consideration individuals who had died, who were in the wrong place at the relevant time, or for other reasons could not be considered to be that person, and ended up with the name of a particular individual who, on the basis of records currently available, could not be ruled out. He was John Done, born in Alvechurch (pronounced Allchurch) in the English County of Worcestershire on May 28th 1592, and he is considered by the Committee, on the basis of current evidence, to be our man.

A parallel program of research that has been looking for a genealogical connection between known descendants of the Deacon in North America and individuals who bear the Done name and variants in England and Wales is described elsewhere on this website.  Please see: Dwnns, Donnes and Doan(e)s: Familial Connections  and  DNA research to find  John Done  .

Both strands of th
e research program continue.


Some forty years ago, Dr Gilbert H. Doane asked the question ‘Mr. John Done: who was he?’ (DFA Proceedings 1972). Four years later, he returned to this theme with his report ‘Clues to the Identity of Mr. John Done’ (DFA Proceedings 1976), presenting the results of his research into this question and identifying five clues that he considered to offer the best chance of finding out more about John Done before he arrived in America.

The story was continued in the 1990 report of the Deacon John Done Research Committee presented by its Chairman, John H Baker (DFA Proceedings 1990). He reported progress in pursuing Gilbert Doane’s clues, especially the third and fourth clues, indicating that although many questions remained unanswered, considerable progress had been made and several sources identified as justifying further investigation. Potential sources for further study were identified in more detail by reference to the correspondence that took place between John Baker and Michael Wood, the professional genealogist employed by the DFA, between September 1988 and July 1989. An outline of these findings is attached in Appendix 1.)

More recently, at the DFA International Reunion 2002, held at the George School, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, the Deacon John Done Research Committee was reconstituted under the chairmanship of Virgil Doan. At its meeting held on August 14th 2002, I reported the results of some preliminary research I had undertaken, still focussing on Gilbert Doane’s clues.

The Committee agreed that this research program should continue to pursue the lines of enquiry initiated by Gilbert Doane and that a report on progress should be presented to the meeting of this Committee due to be held in August 2004. I was asked to continue with this research program in London, near to where I live, and where many source documents were likely to be located. At the same time, Virgil Doan, who lives near Salt Lake City, and has direct access to many LDS records, would undertake and co-ordinate other aspects of the research, especially those where his expertise regarding these records would be of particular value. This report outlines the details of this research program, describes how it was conducted, and presents the results. It also includes and consolidates other material reported to the Committee up to July 2012.

Kay Blair, DFA Historian, also sent me a report by Marilyn London Winton, prepared in 1990, that addressed some of the questions posed in Gilbert Doane’s fifth clue, in particular, those relating to the identity of John Done, of Duddon in Cheshire. (A brief summary of the main points of this report is attached in Appendix 2.)

Also, because of the much greater access to many genealogical sources afforded by the advent of the Internet, a more ambitious approach to the analysis of records was adopted, and the research program included a detailed analysis of the English Parish Registers of the late 16th and early 17th centuries as recorded on the LDS website and elsewhere.

Other possible sources were also considered.

The research program therefore targeted the following:

• The International Genealogical Index and other LDS sources, now available on the Internet;
• English Parish Records;
• ‘Allegations’ for marriage Licences issued by the Bishop of London;
• The ‘Citizens of London’ Index and the County Marriage Indexes prepared by Percival Boyd;
• Chancery Proceedings;
• The ‘Index Library’ and other indexes of information relating to wills and administrations and abstracts thereof;
• ‘Acts of Court’ books, summarizing proceedings before the Prerogative Court of Canterbury relating to testamentary disputes; and
• The apprenticeship and other records of London Livery Companies;


Main Sources

Most of these sources were identified and analysis of the following was carried out:
• Later Day Saints (LDS) records;
• The apprenticeship and other records of London Livery Companies - Merchant Taylors, Cordwainers (Shoemakers) and Bakers;
• Parish registers recording details of baptisms, marriages and burials held in the Library of the Society of Genealogists (SOG) in London, in the Family Records Centre (FRC) – part of the UK Public Record Office (PRO) - and elsewhere. Main records accessed were for:
o St Benet, Gracechurch Street, London;
o St Botolph, Bishopsgate, London;
o St Dunstan, Stepney, Middlesex;
o St Mary Aldermary, Bow Lane, London;
o St Bartholomew, Crewkerne, Somerset;
o St Mary, Eastham, Cheshire.
• Access was obtained to the complete ‘Citizens of London’ records of Percival Boyd and to Boyd’s marriage records covering other counties of England held at the SOG;
• Chancery Records. Documents of relevance included pleadings (‘bills of complaint’, ‘answers’, ‘replications’ and ‘rejoinders’ collectively known as ‘Chancery Proceedings’), ‘evidence depositions’, ‘decrees’ and ’orders’. These documents were mainly in English, except for decrees and orders, which were usually in Latin. Documents accessed were:
o a ‘Bill of Complaint’ by Richard Evans, Susan his wife and Elizabeth Done, lodged 23 June 1631, and responses by those named in the bill. Elizabeth Done was the infant daughter of John Done ‘sayler’ (= sailor), the nephew of John Done ‘whitebaker’ (= baker using white flour). This bill is the mysterious document - reference code ‘1/59 – 1631 June 23’ mentioned by John Baker in the 1990 Research Committee Report - the correct PRO reference being ‘C2 CHASI E1/59’);
o a ‘bill of complaint’ by Agnes Done, the widow of John Done ‘whitebaker’, lodged 10 October 1631, and responses; and
o a replication (a repetition of a complaint) by Elizabeth Done
• The ‘Index Library’ was accessed at the FRC and elsewhere. Records shown here include those collected or created by the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC). PCC documents of particular relevance were wills, ‘grants of administration’ and ‘sentences’ (judgments). In general, the wills themselves were in English, and pronouncements of the PCC, such as grants of probate, administration and sentences, were in Latin. Also, complete wills were available online from the UK Public Record Office (PRO) and on microfiche/ microfilm at the SOG and FRC. Wills obtained included those of:
o John Done ‘whitebaker’, dated 5 September 1624. proved initially on 13 September 1624 (subsequent sentences and administrations also obtained);
o John Done of St Pancras, Soper Lane, London, dated 24 July 1624, proved 5 December 1625;
o William Done of East Ham, dated 10 May 1627;
o John Done ‘sayler’, dated 25 November 1626, proved 29 December 1629;
o Agnes Done, widow of John Done ‘whitebaker’, dated 22 July 1633, proved 17 April 1635;
o John Donne, Rector of St Benet, Gracechurch, London, dated 19 May 1636, proved 17 January 1637 (1636/7);
o Other material from abstracts of probates, sentences and administrations in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury 1620 – 1648;
• The ‘Acts of Court’ books were accessed at the main PRO archives at Kew (London). These - in Latin - were a valuable source of information dealing with the family disputes at the PCC. Here we were fortunate in being able to call on the services of a young researcher, Simon Neal, who worked part time at the PRO as a translator and transcriber of Elizabethan material, and who translated most of the documents that were in Latin for a very reasonable fee.
• Records created by other bodies analysed here included the administration and inventory of agnes of Henley-in-Arden, Warwickshire (father of John Done ‘whitebaker’) dated January 1595 (1594/5). This record was held in the Worcestershire County Record Office (Henley-in-Arden being part of the diocese of Worcester).


The ‘Volunteer Analysis’ (Excel spreadsheet)

LDS records were analysed online to produce a spreadsheet that listed all individuals with the name Done (including Doan, Donne and other variants) appearing on the International Genealogical Index for the British Isles for the period to 1650. A team of volunteers (Deacon John Research Committee members and others) then undertook a further analysis to extract other relevant information, such as names of spouses and parents, and record it on the spreadsheet. This analysis was very much helped by Virgil Doan’s specialist knowledge of the LDS source, enabling unreliable records to be eliminated. (Since this analysis was completed, I have added references to records in the name of ‘Dune’).


Progress in following Gilbert Doane’s clues

Clue 1 - John Done ‘Gent Tayler’

Study of the records of the Merchant Taylors’ Company confirms the earlier findings. The name John Done does not appear on these records, although a musician of that name played the Lute before King James the First at a banquet hosted by the Company.

Summary: no new information or conclusions

Clue 2 - The Eastham (East Ham) connection

Gilbert Doane, in describing the nature of his second clue, referred to the possibility that Deacon John may have renamed Nauset ‘Eastham’ after the town where he may have come from, and listed four towns or villages of that name in England.

a) Eastham, Crewkerne, Somerset

The Victoria History of the Counties of England, in the volume that records the history of Somerset, mentions that the manor of Eastham, later known as Easthams, was ‘held in 1066 with the king’s manor of Crewkerne, by Godwin, the king’s reeve’. Eastham(s) was never a major settlement. John Baker reported in the 1990 Research Committee Report that the name John Done did not appear in the Crewkerne parish register ‘at the right time to identify him with our man’. However, according to the transcript published by W. Phillimore in 1904, the Crewkerne (St Bartholomew) Parish register shows that a marriage took place between John Dunne and Joane Abbot on 10 July 1587 ( Boyd’s marriage Index records the marriage as being between John Dun and Joan Abbot), and a search of the microfilm of the parish register held by the SOG showed the birth of a ‘John Dune’ in April 1589, possibly the son of John and Joane Dunne. I also searched the Index of Somerset Probate Inventories for records of wills of Dones (and name variants), but there were none for the relevant period.

I confirmed the findings of Gilbert Doane, as recorded in a letter dated 6 December 1969, concerning:
    a. the appearance of a John Donne in the Crewkerne ‘hearth tax’ records for 1664/5;
    b. the christenings (baptisms) of Rachel and Humphrie Done, children of Davie Done, in 1587 at the parish church St Mary Aldermary in London (the former church of John Donne of Crewkerne); and
    c. the trade of Davie Done. He was a ‘merchant tayler’. However, so were 18 out of the 22 fathers whose children were baptised in the church in 1587. Two of the others were a ‘shoomaker’ and a ‘mercer’ - a trader in silk textiles. (St Mary Aldermary was presumably the church for the garment workers of London at that time).

(Subsequently, Gilbert Done probably considered the findings referred to in this letter to be of little relevance, since they were given only passing reference in his commentary on the five clues published in his 1976 Report to the Committee.)

Summary: His name, his birthplace and date of birth could make ‘John Dune’ a possible candidate to be the Deacon, but I have found no other link.

b) Eastham (East Ham), Essex

Gilbert Doane referred to the will of one Edward Done of East Ham, but I have not been able to trace it. Probably not important - Gilbert Doane found no relevant links.

Michael Wood referred to the will, dated 1627, of a William Done of East Ham, Essex (East Ham is now an inner suburb of London). I looked at a copy of this will at the SOG, and confirmed the findings of Michael Wood, ‘that the testator was not of the immediate family of John Done the whitebaker of London’. It was interesting that the district is today known as East Ham, two separate words, whereas in the will it is spelt Eastham, which certainly today in England would be pronounced as “East’m” i.e. with the accent on the first syllable.

Summary: little new information gleaned and no evidence of anyone named John

a) Eastham, Worcestershire

A search of the PRO records did not reveal any ‘Done’ wills for Eastham residents. The ‘volunteer analysis’ of the IGI records showed no relevant birth or marriage records for Eastham (a parish for which the IGI includes a record of the complete register to 1880). This finding was confirmed by an analysis of the parish register transcripts held at the SOG. Indeed, the only relevant IGI record for the whole of Worcestershire is that of the baptism of John Done (Donne), born in Alvechurch in 1592 (See Clue 4 below), although, since Eastham is more than 20 miles from Alvechurch, he is unlikely to have had any connection with the village of that name.

Summary: no new conclusions

b) Eastham, Cheshire

I consulted the register for this parish, and confirmed that there were no records in the name of Done (or variants) at the relevant time.

Summary: no new information

Clue 3 - St Benet, Gracechurch Street, London

The IGI appears not hold a record of the register for this parish covering the relevant period, but I consulted an (incomplete) copy held by the SOG, and confirmed that there was an entry for the marriage of John Warren and Mary Donne on 3 August 1626. In that document there were no other entries of interest. I have also produced a transcript of the will of John Donne, Rector of St Benet, written on 18 May 1636 and proved on 17 January 1637. It shows him to have had a grandson, John Donne, who was under 21 years of age at the time the will was written, and who therefore must have been born after May 18 1615, ruling him out as having been the Deacon.

Summary: Neither John Donne, Rector of St Benet Gracechurch, London, nor his grandson of the same name, can have been the Deacon

Clue 4 - The family of John Done ‘whitebaker’

This clue has been considered out of sequence (see below), since it is the one that has produced the basis for the conclusion that the man who went on to become Deacon John was the John Done who was born in Alvechurch in 1592, the man who was described as the ‘cordwainer’ in Agnes Done’s Bill of Complaint

Clue 5 - John Done of Duddon, Cheshire

Marilyn Winton, in the report summarised in Appendix 2, suggested further research was needed to establish whether John Done of Duddon remained in Cheshire after he ‘took the oath of allegiance in London in 1635’ as recorded by Gilbert Doane. If the Parish Register of Tarvin, the parish in which the village of Duddon is situated, showed him to have done so, this would clearly rule him out as being the man who became the Deacon. Having explored this possibility, it was established that he obtained Royal permission to travel abroad, but he went to France, not Plymouth Colony. He is therefore unlikely to have been the man who later became the Deacon.

Clues’ other than those suggested by Gilbert Doane

One task that has taken longer than expected is the transcription of a number of early 17th century documents dealing with lawsuits in the English Court of Chancery involving individuals or families bearing the name Done (or variants). The reason for looking at these documents is that the litigants involved in these proceeding normally provided a lot of detailed information about their family relationships in support of their claims to property or other assets – what the lawsuits were usually about – hopefully providing us with information to help us in our search for the family of Deacon John Done. These cases include some of those listed by Michael Wood. Appendix 5 summarises this work. Unfortunately, there is not much that adds to what we already know. No new leads were found, although several of the lawsuits did involve members of the family of John Done, ‘whitebaker’, the family that was also involved in other lawsuits that pointed us in the direction of John Done, ‘cordwainer’, who so far is the only person not to have been eliminated in our search for the Deacon.

The family of John Done ‘whitebaker’

Answers to earlier queries about ‘whitebaker’ family relationships

Many of the earlier questions raised by Gilbert Doane, Michael Wood, Marshall Doane, John Baker and others can now be resolved:

a. John Done, clearly the ‘whitebaker’, is listed as occupying the post of ‘Master’, the senior position in the Bakers’ livery company, in 1603 and 1604. This information appears in a list of holders of that post published in ‘A short history of the Worshipful Company of Bakers of London’, by Sylvia Thrupp;

b. The Boyd’s ‘Citizens of London’ records confirmed many of the relationships between John Done ‘whitebaker’ and his family as reported by Michael Wood - except for the relationship between John Done ‘whitebaker’ and John Done ‘sayler’ (see para c. below).

c. The Chancery Proceedings were a most valuable source of the background to the ‘Done v Done’ disputes, throwing light on many of the relationships between Johns Done ‘whitebaker’ and his family. Among other things, it confirmed, contrary to what Michael Wood believed, that John Done ‘sayler’ was indeed related to the ‘whitebaker’ as suggested by Percival Boyd in his ‘Citizens of London’ index. He was his nephew, and named as one of the principal beneficiaries in his will.

d. Gilbert Doane believed that the John Done who contested the whitebaker’s will, calling himself the next of kin and rightful heir to the estate, was the eldest son of the whitebaker’s eldest brother, Robert (i.e. the nephew who was a sailor). This belief was expressed in the article “Clues to the identity of Mr John Done” published in DFA Proceedings – 1976 (p. 40 lines 34-37) and repeated in the 1990 Report of the Research Committee (p.18 lines 6-11). This is not so. The claimant was John Done, the man described as the ‘cordwainer’ (= shoemaker), not the nephew (the ‘sayler’).

e. The 1990 Research Committee Report (P.18 lines 24 – 26) suggested that there was no evidence that the lawsuit uncovered by Michael Wood was the same as that mentioned in Gilbert’s fourth clue. However, it is now clear that this lawsuit, as recorded in “Chancery Proceedings ChasI/ E1/59” involved many of the same people as were involved in the suit Gilbert Doane was investigating as recorded in the PCC ‘Acts of Court’ books mentioned by Michael Wood (1990 Research Committee Report, p.17 lines 46-50).

f. A transcript of the parish register of St Dunstan Stepney does not add to what was found by Marshall Doane in 1987.

Results of later research

a. The work done by the volunteer groups analysing the IGI records has been very useful. It provides a useful frame of reference against which to check any new suggestions as to the identity of Deacon John. It has also shown that there were not very many people across England at the relevant time who carried the name John Done (including variants of the name) and who were likely to have subsequently been honoured with the title ‘Deacon John’. There are undoubtedly parishes that we have not been able to investigate, either because no parish registers exist, or we have not been able to locate them. However, there is no reason to assume that those that we have not been able to track down are more likely to contain families by the name of Done than those that we have been able to find. We also know that we have relatively good coverage of areas of the country that even today, contain relatively high proportions of those with the name (i.e. the North West of England, the West Midlands and the Welsh Marches)


b. The main disputes surrounding the will of John Done ‘whitebaker’, arose out of the fact that his widow, Agnes Done, was, under the terms of that will, granted use of the property contained in the estate whilst she lived, whilst many of those who were named as ultimate beneficiaries died before she did. This led to claims against the estate, and against Agnes Done personally, by others such as John Done ‘cordwainer’ (son of Nicholas Done, first cousin of John Done ‘whitebaker’) and Elizabeth Done, infant daughter of John Done ‘sayler’ (nephew of John Done ‘whitebaker’).

c. What do we know about John Done ‘cordwainer’?

    i. He was born in Alvechurch, Worcestershire on 28 May 1592, the son of Nicholas Done, the cousin of John Done ‘whitebaker’.

    ii. On 30 April 1630, John Done ‘cordwainer’, appeared in court in person to request that administration of the estate of John Done ‘whitebaker’, be awarded to him. This followed a continuing court case initiated by him in June 1628 against Agnes Done, the whitebaker’s widow, in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, contesting the validity of the will. However, he did not appear in person at any subsequent hearing. He was granted administration of the estate on 6 May 1630, following Agnes Done’s excommunication for failure to respond to a summons to attend the court.

(The ‘Handmaid’ sailed for New England on 10 August 1630. According to Gilbert Doane, John Done arrived in America in 1630. No passenger list has been found for the ‘Handmaid’ but he was not listed as travelling on any other vessel recorded as arriving in America in that year)

    iii. A ‘Bill of Complaint’ brought against him and others by Agnes Done, the whitebaker’s widow, in the Court of Chancery, alleged that he had conspired with others to defraud Agnes Done out of her inheritance. He responded to this Bill some time in 1631 or 1632 (document is undated) stating that since Agnes Done had been excommunicated, he had no need to respond, and asking for costs to be awarded to him. This response, unlike that of other respondents, was in handwriting that suggested it had not been written by a professional scribe. Could it have been handwritten by the cordwainer himself, assuming he did not have access to such professional services, and sent by a messenger to the court? In this case an attempt was made to find the original will of Deacon John and check his signature on that document against this presumed signature of John Done (cordwainer). Unfortunately, Marshall Doane discovered that the Deacon’s will was destroyed in a fire at the record office where it was held and so it was not possible to pursue this line of inquiry.

    iv. In this Bill of Complaint he was described as ‘cordwainer’, although it is worth remembering that defendants were frequently described in unflattering terms in legal documents prepared by the plaintiff. The Lists of the ‘Court of Assistants and Liverymen of the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers of London’ did not include any Dones (or variants) at the relevant time, but he could just have been an apprentice, or might have been a member of a guild outside London.

    v. Elizabeth Done and Richard Evans also raised a Bill of Complaint against John Done ‘cordwainer’ and others, including Agnes Done, in which they stated that John Done ‘sayler’, the nephew of John Done ’whitebaker’, was the true heir to his estate, but that, following his death at sea between 1626 and 1629, his daughter Elizabeth should have inherited it. The Bill alleged that there was a conspiracy on the part of Agnes Done and the cordwainer to defraud Elizabeth of her inheritance. (Richard Evans, her stepfather, the joint complainant, had married Susan, the sailor’s widow). The Bill makes reference to witnesses who ‘depart this realm or remayne in foraigne parts’. Although there is no indication that this comment refers to John Done ‘cordwainer’ (the document is illegible at this point) there was clearly a sense that some of the witnesses listed were very likely to have left the country. John Done ‘cordwainer’ did not make a response to this Bill of Complaint, a response on his behalf being made by fellow defendants, John Betteson and Richard Kilvert in October 1632. (It is likely that Deacon John was in New England at this time)

    vi. Early research into his background suggests that immediately before going to America, John Done lived in London, a city where much research into parish records has been carried out (e.g. Percival Boyd’s index of citizens of London) showing that the city had relatively few families with the name of Done (or Donne). John Done ‘cordwainer’ is the only person of that name, and with birth dates that match, recorded as living in London at the relevant time. He used the name ‘Done’, and he was referred to under that name by others, in all of the legal proceedings in which he was involved, including his suit against Agnes Done and the Bills of Complaint brought against him by Agnes Done and by Elizabeth Done and Richard Evans. At the same time, the Alvechurch (= Alchurch) parish register that records his baptism uses the spelling ‘Donne’. However, the relationships described both in the lawsuits and in the register itself clearly relate to the same family. (Gilbert Doane points out that Deacon John himself always spelt his surname ‘Done’ and that it was only the next generation that used the spelling ‘Doane’)

    vii. If we can find someone who was a member of Plymouth Colony at the same time as the Deacon, and if that same individual was associated with someone going by the name of John Done in England, and the dates and other circumstantial evidence fit, then we are likely to have identified the person who went on to become the Deacon. The available evidence points to just such a link in the case of Hannah Leycroft. Leycroft (and its various spellings) is a very unusual surname, reducing any possibility of identifying the wrong individuals. Agnes Done’s Bill of Complaint against John Done ‘cordwainer’ and others identifies William Leycroft as her son by her first marriage to Samson Leycroft. Parish records of St Stephen Walbrook in the city of London record Hannah Leycroft as being baptised on January 1 1628 (Julian calendar), her father being Willam Leycroft. Plymouth Colonial records show a marriage between John Mayo and Hannah Lecraft at Eastham in February 1659 (Julian calendar). This would make Hannah aged 31 at the time of her marriage, and if she came to Plymouth on the Handmaid when it arrived in Plymouth in October 1630 she would only have been aged one and a half years old, but passenger lists of crossings made at the time frequently show children as young as 18 months old making the crossing. She may have travelled with him later if, as suggested by Gilbert Doane and Steven Morrison, Deacon John Done may have made more than one trip between England and Plymouth Colony in the 1630s.

It is worth quoting verbatim from the comments of Gilbert Doane as reported in the 1976 Proceedings of the DFA (Page 41). Subsequent research has provided no reason to doubt his hypothesis as stated there. It reads: “Hannah Leycroft married John Mayo in Eastham in 1651. Their granddaughter married Eleazer Doane, a great-grandson of Mr. John Done. I find no other mention of anyone named Leycroft in any New England colonial records. Could she have been a ‘button hole’ relative of our progenitor, perhaps a grand-daughter of Agnes (---) (Leycroft) Done, the widow of John done, white baker? Perhaps John Done went back to England in 1635 – his name does not appear in Plymouth Colony Records for several months in 1634-5 – and brought this child back with him: or, she might have been sent over to be raised by him”.


Men carrying the name John Done (or variants) who have been definitely identified as not the Deacon are:
    • John Done ‘whitebaker’ (died in September 1624).
    • John Done – son of Thomas Done – Gent who later moved to London, where he was identified as John Done of St Pancras Soper Lane, London (died between 1624 and 1625)
    • John Done - the nephew of John Done ‘whitebaker’ - also described as John Done ‘sayler’ (died between 1626 and 1629).
    • John Done Esq. – son and heir of Sir John Done of Utkinton in Cheshire (died in 1629)
    • John Donne – Rector of St Benet, Gracechurch, London (died between 1636 and 1637)
    • John Donne - grandson of John Donne, Rector of St Benet, Gracechurch, London (born after May 1615)
    • John Done of Duddon, Cheshire

The only man for whom such claims have not been disproved is John Done, born in Alvechurch, Worcestershire on 28 May 1592, the man described as ‘cordwainer’ by Agnes Done in her Bill of Complaint. The circumstantial evidence that he is ‘our man’ is very strong. We know that he was very well acquainted with the Leycroft family in England, through the complaint against him made by Agnes Done (formerly Leycroft) and that John Done (the Deacon) must have known Hannah Lecraft when she lived in the small community of Eastham. This is one of the strongest pieces of evidence we have that ‘the cordwainer’ went on to become ‘the Deacon’.


1. As quoted in letter to John Baker dated 12 January 1989 (unless otherwise stated)

a. Analysis of Boyd’s Citizens of London Index

Michael Wood consulted Boyd’s ‘Citizens of London’ Index at the Society of Genealogists in London. This source suggested that John Done, the son of Robert Done (the brother of John Done ‘whitebaker’) was also John Done ‘sayler’:
• who in 1626 already had a wife, Susan, and a daughter, Elizabeth;
• who, in November 1626, was “bound forth on a voyage in a ship called the Globe of Poole”;
• who died at some time between 1626 and 1629
• who had his will proved in 1629; and
• whose widow, Susan, later married Richard Evans at St. Martin Ludgate in 1629.

Michael Wood believed that there was no connection between this John Done ‘sayler’ and the family of John Done ‘whitebaker’. (This was subsequently found to be untrue. John Done ‘sayler’ was the nephew of John Done ‘whitebaker’ as suggested by Boyd)

Boyd referred to ‘Chan Proc 1/59 1631 Jun 23’ in connection with John Done ‘whitebaker’. John Wood attempted to check out this reference by looking at Volume 1, page 59 of Chancery Proceedings Temp. Charles 1 – Class C2, but it did not match.

b. John Done ‘ whitebaker’ and the Bakers’ Company

The first appearance of John Done ‘whitebaker’ in the ‘quarterage book’ of the Bakers’ Company was in 1585/6 when his first quarterage due (membership subscription) was in the fourth quarter of that year.

c. Chancery Proceedings, Temp. Charles I

Cases listed by Michael Wood were:

D 5/35 Done v Done &tc
D 20/63 Done v Dixon
D 22/10 Done v Mountstephens
D 31/60 Donne v Donne
D 38/2 Done v Southcott, Knt
D 51/59 Done v Dixon
D 52/5 Done v Rogers
D 52/42 Donne v Donne
D 53/9 Dowe v Dowe
D 54/42 Done v Rogers etc
D 55/9 Done &tc v Done &tc
D 58/18 Downe v Downe &tc
D 58/48 Downe v Downe

Michael Wood considered that the testamentary case we are interested in was more likely to be D5/35 or D55/9, both Done v. Done, although the ‘&tc’ indicated that persons with other surnames were also parties.

d. Will of Robert Done, brother of John Done ‘whitebaker’

The absence of a will for brother Robert (either in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury or amongst the wills of Londoners proved in a local ecclesiastical court) may be because he left no will, but may also be because he was not a Londoner and his will was proved locally elsewhere.

e. Will of William Done of East Ham

The document collection at the Society of Genealogists has a photocopy of the first two pages of the will of William Done of East Ham, Essex, dated 1627. This indicated that he was not of the immediate family of John Done ‘whitebaker’.

f. St Dunstan’s Parish Register

Michael Wood suggested a search of St Dunstan’s parish register for Done entries not on IGI (letter to John Baker dated 26 September 1988)

g. ‘Acts of Court’ books

Michael Wood noted that the ‘Acts of Court’ books are registers in which are summarised the proceedings before the Prerogative Court concerning testamentary disputes. He listed entries under codes PROB 29/28 and PROB 29/29 that refer to ‘Done v Done’ (letter to John Baker dated 6 July 1989).



This research was inspired by the belief that Deacon John may have had some connection with the aristocratic Done family of Cheshire, centred on the Tarporley area of the county. Hence, in 1973, Marilyn London Winton ‘visited the Cheshire Record Office in Chester and extracted all Done/Donne entries up to about 1610 for the parishes of Tarporley (where Utkinton is located) and Tarvin (where Duddon is located)’. She also followed up sources referred to in Gilbert Doane’s article written for the DFA Reunion in 1976, especially that relating to his fifth clue. On the basis that the ages of very aged persons are frequently exaggerated, individuals born between 1589 and 1594 were considered possible Deacon ‘candidates’. Individuals identified as a result of her researches were:

• John Done of Stableford

Only one John Done was recorded as having been born in the area covered by the Tarvin and Tarporley parishes between 1589 and 1591. He was John Done, son of Richard and Jane (Hatton) Done of Stableford (Bruen Stapleford on today’s maps), who was baptised on 9 November 1591. An ‘administration’ was granted for the estate of a John Done of Stapleford in 1679, which if it is the same individual, would rule him out as being the Deacon. However, Ms Winton considered that ‘clarification is needed’ and that further research should be undertaken in the Tarvin Parish Register to establish whether he remained in the Parish or not during the period that the Deacon was in America, and if he did, to rule him out as being the Deacon.

‘John Done of Duddon in Cheshire, Esqe’

This was the John Done discovered by Gilbert Doane as having taken ‘the oath of allegiance in London in 1635’. Ms Winton was unable to find further evidence of the existence of this John Done, but suggested a search of the Tarvin Parish Register in order to establish whether he continued to live in Duddon at the time the Deacon was in America. If he did, he could not be Deacon John.

• John Done – son of ‘Thomas Done, Gent’

This John Done, baptised in 1594 in Tarporley, was the son of Thomas and Jane (Myncho) Done. John had a brother Raphe and a sister Dorothy. Ms Winton also found a will of a John Done of St Pancras, Soper Lane, London dated 1624, probate being granted in December 1625. Legacies recorded to brother Raphe and sister Dorothy and other details in the will make it clear that this John Done was one and the same as John Done - the son of Thomas Done, Gent. He could not therefore have been the Deacon or the ‘John Done of Duddon Esqe’ who took the oath of allegiance in 1635.

• John Done – son of James Done of Tarporley

John Done, the son of James Done of Tarporley, was baptised in June 1593. He had two brothers, Richard (baptised:1587) and Robert (baptised:1590/ died:1592). Again, Ms Winton suggested further research in the Tarporley Parish Register to establish whether or not this John Done remained in the area.


At the beginning of the 17th Century, the English legal system was extremely complex. Of relevance to our research is the fact that much legal activity relating to wills was conducted through the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC), an ecclesiastical court (dealing only with matters covering the southern half of England and the Midlands) that granted ‘probate’ to the executors of wills or ‘letters of administration’ to others, e.g. where there was no executor, or where probate was revoked. The PCC could pass ‘sentences’ of the following kinds:

    a) Granting letters of administration.
    b) Confirming the grant of letters of administration
    c) Revoking letters of administration
    d) Declaring in favour of the validity of a will
    e) Confirming a grant of probate
    f) Revoking a grant of probate

Many actions relating to disputed wills were also pursued through the courts of equity, including ‘Chancery’ and the ‘Star Chamber’ and the courts of common law including ‘Kings Bench’. Chancery was a court that, in the words of the official Guide to the Public Record Office, ‘promised a merciful justice not bound by the strict rules of the common law courts’. The Star Chamber was ‘effectively the King’s Council sitting as a tribunal to enforce law and order’ but also used to adjudicate on ‘private disputes about property rights.’

It is clear that the legal activity surrounding the contesting of the will of John Done, whitebaker, involved several of these jurisdictions, including the PCC, Chancery and the Star Chamber.

 Click here to see APPENDIX 4  which contains a detailed summary of documents transcribed and translated.