The Duncombe family of Barley End

In May 2003 the Society purchased through an auction a letter with a black wax seal and family crest written in 1774 by one Thomas Duncombe of Berkhampstead St Peter’s, the executor of his sister Ann’s estate.


Part of letter by Thomas Duncombe, 1774

Ann was a maiden lady of Berkhampstead St Peter’s and the letter concerns the discharge of a mortgage. A quest for more information began and a small book of the Duncombe family, privately published by Ralph Duncombe of East Grinstead in 1982, contained a family tree which included the writer of our letter, Thomas and his sister Ann. Her will subsequently gave a detailed insight into how a wealthy woman of that period lived. Among her bequests, Ann did not forget the poor or her loyal maidservant Mary Pitkin who would live more comfortably with a substantial sum of money along with apparel, household goods and linen, chairs, stools and “4 vessels to put beer in”. Her niece Rebecca was to receive “china of all sorts and also a Deal box” with its contents, “the ffeather bed and Bedstead… a dressing glass set in tortoiseshell and a fframe made to it by Robert Loader and also my Pontypool Tea Waiter”.

J. Sherwood, Chronicle, Vol I, pp.38-42