The DUFFKIN (DUFKIN) Family One-Name Study
I have been following my DUFFKIN family for more than two decades. They are documented between the C16th & C18th in Nuneaton, Rugby and Coventry (in Warwickshire, England), Leicester and London. It is not clear from where they originated, but their numbers steadily declined until the family name died out in 1877. It is certainly unusual to document a full surname extinction, encompassing a unique family group that disappears from history in less than 350 years. Although a small number of descendants do exist along females lines, such as myself. They finally succumbed in the C19th to too few males who either died childless or unmarried. This is a shortened version of the larger synopsis found on my research webpage, providing some of the more interesting and historical highlights.
Family name derivation is uncertain, but perhaps typical of many names ending in -kin it may refer to a diminutive/pet name form of an Old English personal name (the Scots equivalent possibly being MacDuff). US families believe their DUFKIN name originates from Lithuania, so do not appear to be related to the English family. US census records support DUFKINs in the USA as having “Russia” (loosely defined) as their roots.
There are no earlier records to support an English family of large numbers or of long standing. Over 99% of all British records attach to the only 48 individuals born with the DUFFKIN name, who all belong to the same family tree. In the Nuneaton area, records suggest the following additional name variations, due to error in transcription or phonetic spelling: DISKIN (although found elsewhere in Britain), DUSSKIN, DUFFKING & DUFKYN. Other possible variants include LUKFIN. In Coventry, the name was sometimes written/transcribed as DURKIN & DUPHKIN.
Any stories about this family, who appeared to have been relatively wealthy merchant traders, land holders and property owners in Warwickshire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire & London, is only preserved through a very limited number of surviving female lines and deduced from limited public records. Like many now established English families, they may have arrived in Elizabethan England as refugees, perhaps as just one person.
For the Record
- The last known DUFKIN variant: James & Jane who married in 1833 but had no known issue. He died in 1867 aged 76, she in 1877 aged 66 (the last living of all name variants).
- The last known DUFFKIN variant: Lydia, the sister of James, above, who married in 1839 (the last known marriage). Mary who died in 1841, wife of Marmaduke who died in 1869 aged 61 (the last living male of the family).
- The first confirmed DUFFKIN: William of Nuneaton, Warwickshire who married in 1614 and is the recorded head of this English family.
- The earliest recorded name in England: “Joanna widow Dufkin” buried 4 Sep 1584 in Marden, Kent. The significance of this entry is not known.
- The earliest possible Nuneaton reference: “Robert DIRKIN” baptised 21 Jan 1586 s/o Daniell.
The DUFFKIN name was passed on as a middle name to two known grandchildren: Jeremiah Duffkin PARRISH (1778-1841, WAR) and Elizabeth Duffkin ASHTON (1836). An otherwise unknown Ann Duffkin KNIGHT (born c1803 Frome, Somerset).
The family name distribution is restricted to Nuneaton (Warwickshire), Leicestershire and London. The DUFFKINs were around Nuneaton from since 1544 according to Sir Marmaduke Constable’s survey of the county, but there are few records. Sir Marmaduke was a C16th Member of Parliament for Warwickshire who resided in Nuneaton, and was buried in Nuneaton churchyard in 1560. The occurrence of the name Marmaduke in the DUFFKIN family may be in respect of this famous local individual. Chilvers Coton (Nuneaton) was noted for pottery & tie making since the mid C13th. From about 1650 the Nuneaton clothmaking trade gave way to silk ribbon weaving, which had spread from nearby Coventry. The London connection would be necessary for any high-class merchant trader and several DUFFKINs were involved in tax collection (both local in the county as well as import duties in the London docks).
My Earliest DUFFKIN Ancestors
William DUFFKIN of Nuneaton, Warwickshire is my eleven times great grandfather (11xGGF) who was born by 1595. He married Margaret THOMPSON of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire in 1614 in Ashby. Known children include Marmaduke DUFFKIN (c1620-1664, my 10xGGF). Marmaduke married Mary WYSE in October 1641 at Burton Hastings, Warwickshire. Two children are known including GRACE DUFFKIN (c1664) who married Richard GLOSTER at the Collegiate Church of St Katherine by the Tower in London in 1687.
Marmaduke & Mary’s son, William DUFFKIN (c1649) married Lettis or Lettice NEVE in Clerkenwell, London in 1669, and are my 9xGGPs) The couple appear to have had at least five children at Nuneaton.
Marmaduke DUFFKIN (1670–1704) of Attleborough, Warwickshire, was a Tax Collector for Nuneaton and farmer. His wife, Sarah, died in 1700 after bearing at least 4 children. Marmaduke was a witness to a legal case held in Whitehall in Jan 1697. After the premature death of the couple, Marmaduke’s younger brother Richard DUFFKIN raised their children.
The Family in London
Jeremiah DUFFKIN s/o Marmaduke (1695-1751) was a yeoman & maltster in Edmonton, Middlesex (now part of north London). He met an untimely end in 1751, which was reported at the time. He had married Elizabeth HUNSDON at St Alphage London Wall in 1728. Both are commemorated by a plaque in All Saints church, Edmonton. They had no known issue.
William DUFFKIN (1699 Westminster, London) was recorded in 1729 as a tidesman for the Port of London, which was the job of an excise man, going onboard merchant ships docking in the Thames to secure payment of duties. He has no known marriage or issue.
A couple of London society marriages were announced for various ladies of the family, including Mary DUFFKIN (1736) who married Charles HANFORD in 1762 Holborn, London (announced in London Chronicle and Miss DUFFKIN given of Soho Square at the time of her marriage. Sarah DUFFKIN (1742-70) married Richard HUDDLESTON (c1740-1801) of Gray’s Inn, London in 1764 at Westminster, London, where her husband is noted as a direct descendant of Edward III.
Jeremiah DUFFKIN, Gentleman
Jeremiah DUFFKIN was noted as a Gentleman. He was born in 1751 Nuneaton and died in 1824 Leicester. He married Mary HOLLAND in 1773 Coventry. Mary died at their home in Rugby, Warwickshire. Jeremiah then remarried a Miss Mary SUTTON of Leicester in 1805, where the marriage was advertised in ‘Monthly Magazine and British Register’ (Volume 19, Issue 1). Jeremiah was mainly resident in Rugby and was listed as a mercer, draper & silkman with business interests also in Burnley, Lancashire. His residences included the then upmarket ‘The Newarkes’ in Leicester, Barby in Northamptonshire (pictured below), Cross Cheaping in Coventry and Leamington, Warwickshire. In 1795 & 1797 Jeremiah & his first wife were recorded as resident in Rugby and paying for Hair Powder certificates in 1795 & 1797. Compared to modern times, this was a new and bizarre tax law imposed on wig owners and introduced at 1 guinea per year. Jeremiah’s children included Marmaduke DUFFKIN (1807-69), an unmarried proprietor of houses, with whose death in 1869 was the last male DUFFKIN in England. His listed properties included Rugby & The Newarkes, but was generally found on census to be resident with his married sister in Swayfield, Lincolnshire.
The Story of Sarah DUFFKIN – An C18th Independent Woman
Sarah DUFFKIN, daughter of Marmaduke DUFFKIN, a small farmer of Nuneaton, Warwickshire, and his wife Sarah, was baptised on 20 Apr 1699, but lost both parents by her fifth birthday; her mother was buried in Mar 1701 and her father in Feb 1704. Her uncle Richard DUFFKIN (?1670-1733) and his wife Mary (died 1731) were her early guardians as the only blood relations who received legacies under Sarah’s will were the children and grandchildren of Richard & Mary.
Most of what can be learned of Sarah’s later life is from two anonymous biographies of Alderman John BARBER (1675-1741), both published in 1741 immediately after his death. The first “The Life and Character of John Barber, Esq., late Lord-Mayor of London, deceased” (LC), is sympathetic to both Barber and Sarah. The second, “An impartial History of the Life, Character, Amours, Travels, and Transactions of Mr. John Barber, City-Printer, Common-Councillor, Alderman, and Lord Mayor of London” (IH) was issued from the notorious ‘gutter-press’ of Edmund Curll, the work of a political enemy, and is very hostile to both people. There is also a full and balanced modern biography: “Tyrant: The Story of John Barber” (1989) by Charles A. Rivington.
Maid Servant & Insolent Country-wench
These sources agree that, at some uncertain date, probably shortly before 1720, Sarah DUFFKIN was in London as maidservant of the celebrated and scandalous novelist Mary de la Rivière Manley (1663-1724) at a time when Mrs. Manley, “running to fat” and approaching fifty, was the mistress of John Barber, the printer, Tory, and friend of publisher/writer Jonathan Swift. Barber was a wealthy man, who, as a Tory with well-connected friends such as Swift, Alexander Pope and Viscount Bolingbroke, had enjoyed lucrative contracts in the reign of Queen Anne; also, he could buy a substantial country estate in East Sheen and a fine town house in Queen Square, Holborn.
Sarah DUFFKIN was ‘an ignorant and insolent Country-wench, of as mean an Extraction as [Barber’s] own. This Creature he hired in the Country, and brought her up to Town to attend Mrs. Manley in the lowest Degree of Servitude, a common House-Maid at the Wages of four Pounds a Year’ (IH, i, 24). On the other hand Sarah ‘succeeded at Mrs. Manley’s Death to her Place in his House and Affection; who proved an excellent Manager of his Affairs; faithful to her Trust, and to the Confidence reposed in her, and just to him to the last Hour of his Life; all which appears, the Alderman was fully convinced of, by the large Appointment he has made for a Provision for her after Decease; who, during his Life, was Mistress of his House, and lived in a handsome, sumptious Manner, suitable to his opulent Fortune’ (LC, 26). However, Sarah’s place in John Barber’s house and affection must have been earlier than stated here. Mary Manley did not die until 11 Jul 1724, still in the apartment she had long occupied in Barber’s printing office at Lambeth Hill, whereas Sarah was undoubtedly Barber’s long-established housekeeper by 1722, the year that he was elected alderman. [Note: Barber’s Will refers to more than 20 years of faithful service, and she was appointed one of 3 Executors.]
The Italian Job
In that year, Barber travelled to Italy, by way of France, ostensibly for his health, but also, as was alleged by his enemies at the time, to take money and letters from English Jacobites to the Pretender. While abroad, Barber left his fine new house at Queen Square in the charge of Sarah, just turned 23, and per LC ‘ the person who had for some Years had the Charge of it’ (LC, 43), so if she had ever been the common house-maid sneered at by IH she was one no longer. Her resourcefulness and mature sense of responsibility is evidenced by what followed. ‘The gentle woman, whom we have named for the Governess of his House, in his Absense…made some Discovery in Relation to his Affairs’ and, wishing to acquaint him of it, travelled to Naples. Rivington conjectures that Sarah had discovered that, despite government suspicions (probably justified) that Barber was engaged in treasonable dealings with the Pretender, a pardon could be arranged for him. Certainly, Sarah made the arduous journey to Naples and returned in 1724 with her employer (and, one would guess, lover), who had ever afterwards, a high opinion of her.
Life with Barber
After his return, Barber became once again one of the leading Tories in London; particularly prominent in his year as Lord Mayor (1732-33) when he coordinated City opposition to Walpole’s Excise Bill. During the Lord-mayorship Sarah became acquainted with a young protégée of Swift, Laetitia Pilkington (1712-50) – LP, whose profligate husband Matthew was for a while Barber’s chaplain, and who was the probable author of the hostile IH published by Curll. LP writes in her Memoirs (1748-54) of John Barber that he ‘was a Batchelor; he had a Gentlewoman who managed his Household affairs, and who, except on public days, did the Honours of his table. Mr. P told me she was violently in love with him, and was ready to run mad upon hearing I was come to London. How true this might be I know not, but as she was very civil to me, and was old enough to be my Mother, I was not in the least disturbed with jealousy on her own Account’ (i. 159-60). Sarah was, 13 years older than Laetitia. In the event the two ladies hit it off well enough to go to the theatre together.
The Grandeur of the Wife of an Alderman
In 1734 Mrs. Sarah DUFKIN, a Mr. DUFKIN (Sarah’s brother Jeremiah), and John Barber (five copies) were among the nine hundred subscribers to Poems on Several Occasions by Mary Barber (no relation, c1690-1757), an Irish protégée of Swift, who also subscribed for ten copies. This year Barber stood for parliament, but his Jacobite-Tory past told against him and he was defeated after a customarily expensive campaign. Sarah had advised him not to stand (LC, 55). One can envisage Barber as he grew older depending more upon Sarah. He admitted that she ‘was better acquainted with the Nature of his Constitution than any other Person’ (IH, p. xxx).
Barber was a martyr to gout (LC, 31), that plague of City alderman. Sarah remained with Barber in the ambiguous position of a wife and no wife. LP testifies that Sarah presided over Barber’s table except on ‘public days’. The hostile biographer notes that when the couple were at Calais in 1724 ‘she appeared in the Grandeur of the Wife of an Alderman in London’, but Barber’s French footman observed, when they were back in London, that ‘she was the Mistress abroad, the Maid at home’ (IH, 24, 26). In Barber’s will, made on 28 Dec 1740, five days before his death at the age of 65, she is called ‘Mistress Sarah Dufkin, Spinster’ and is thanked ‘for her long and faithful services, and extraordinary care of me for upwards of twenty years’ (IH, p. xxiii).
The Will of Charles Molloy
Sarah was an executor and the residuary legatee of the will. Pecuniary legacies to many individual persons totalled £5,000, including sums of £100 each to a servant Mary Hammond, who was in Sarah’s service when she made her will in 1756, and to the playwright and Tory journalist Charles MOLLOY. As residuary legatee Sarah inherited the houses at East Sheen and Queen Square, with all their contents, together with £20,000 in money. The author of IH sourly alleges that Sarah ‘bullied’ Barber ‘out of the Bulk of his whole estate’ and compares the fortune she inherited with the mere £1,000 left by Barber to another of his mistresses, Charlotte Davenant. (These two ladies remained acquainted with one another to the extent that, 15 year later, Sarah bequeathed £50 to Charlotte; whether as an olive branch or a snub is not altogether clear).
A Woman of Means
Sarah used some of the £20,000 to purchase an annuity of £400 a year. She sold the house and fifteen acres at East Sheen to a Jeremiah Harman, but retained what was evidently a sizeable tract of land which she leased to her brother Jeremiah DUFFKIN (maltster of Edmonton) for over £200 p.a., (cf. his father Marmaduke, for whom rents of 9s. 6d. or £2 10s. were significant sums). As for Sarah DUFFKIN, now with an ample fortune at her own disposal, she was a highly attractive proposition.
It is reasonable to assume that she met Charles Molloy during John Barber’s lifetime; quite possibly at the dinner table over which she presided. He was an Irishman (origins unknown, but born late 1600’s, possibly in Birr, part of King’s County, and educated in Dublin). By February 1715 he was living in London. Sarah & John were married eighteen months after Barber’s death and lived in financial comfort for the rest of their lives. The marriage settlement was dated 16 Jul 1742.
The Will of Sarah Molloy
Sarah had no children by Barber or Molloy. She died in Feb 1758, having made her will on 7 Jan 1756 (PCC 47 Hutton : prob. 14 Feb 1758). It provides annuities of respectively £40, £20, and £10 per year for her cousins Marmaduke DUFFKIN of Nuneaton and Samuel DUFFKIN of Attleborough and her maid Mary Hammond. It makes no mention of Marmaduke & Samuel’s siblings, Grace, Mary & Richard, or of Samuel’s children, several of whom were already dead. By contrast, Mary & Sarah DUFFKIN, daughters of cousin Marmaduke and his wife Catherine (evidently Sarah’s favourites and London residents) received £1,000 each, together with other requests, when they reached the age of 21. Grace & Richard, two other children of Marmaduke, both apparently over 21, where to have £100 each. All Marmaduke’s other children would also receive a hundred pounds each on attaining the age of 21; they are not named in Sarah’s will but must include Susanna, Jeremiah and Elizabeth, later mentioned in Charles Molloy’s will. (Marmaduke & Catherine had three other children where the author of this article has no records after baptism).
£100 each was left to Mary GOWLAND of Nuneaton, Elizabeth TERRY of Southwark, Mary JEFFREYS of Westminster, and Lady Cromarty, but only £50 to ‘my Friend Charlotte Davenant, Spinster’: Barber’s old mistress. It is stipulated that all the legacies to the women are ‘for their own separate use and not to be the subject to the debts, control, or management of their respective husbands’. The real estate in East Sheen was to be placed in trust to pay two annuities, of £50 & £20, to John Barber’s kin and to provide for the maintenance and education of the favoured second cousins Mary & Sarah DUFFKIN, who were also to receive the testator’s rings, jewels, trinkets, and wearing apparel.
Charles Molloy was to have use of Sarah’s gold repeating watch and best diamond ring, which, after his death, would go to the aforesaid Mary & Sarah. The residue of Sarah’s estate ‘over and above what was settled upon him at our Marriage’, went to her husband, ‘hoping that when he comes to dispose of his Fortune, he will bestow some part thereof on such of my Relations as he in his discretion shall think most deserving of it’. When he died nine years later the settlement and residue combined must have totalled well over £10,000. None of Sarah’s siblings are mentioned in the will. Her brother Jeremiah was renting her land at East Sheen in the 1740s, but died in 1751.
Charles Molloy’s Will included over £8,000 to be divided between ten members of his late wife’s family and their in-laws. A £1,000 each went to Charles HANFORD and Richard HUDDLESTON, both of the parish of St Giles in the Fields, Holborn (the husbands respectively of the favourite second cousins Mary & Sarah, who they themselves were also to receive another £1,000 each, together with all Molloy’s trinkets, toys, jewels, gold, silver, and copper medals, and pieces of foreign coin, equally shared.) £1,000 each also went to Jane & Charles HUDDLESTON, the children of Richard & Sarah, when they turned 21. £2,000 was to be divided equally between the other children of Marmaduke DUFFKIN, i.e. the two married daughters, Elizabeth TURNER & Grace LAUGHTON, and the two children still under 21, Jeremiah & Susanna. All legacies to married women followed the same terms as in Sarah’s will.
Elizabeth DUFFKIN of Edmonton (Jeremiah’s widow) received £100. All Molloy’s household goods, furniture, plate, china, linen, etc. (books & pictures excepted) were divided between HANFORD & HUDDLESTON, thereby faithfully carrying out his late wife’s wishes. The three DUFFKINs who inherited from Sarah, but were absent from Charles’ will were her cousin Marmaduke (1707) and Samuel (1696), who were already dead, as was Marmaduke’s son Richard (1732).
Mark Grace, Resident Genealogist, Ballynoe House