Genealogy of the Bunyan Family
(version June 17, 2019)
Please email corrections to Mike Clark
Thomas Bunnyon (Bunnion) of Silsoe (c.1648?-1715?) is the first individual with a surname resembling that of Bunyan to appear in the records for the village of Silsoe, Bedfordshire, which, because it had no church of its own, was part of the parish of Flitton. The first record we have found is an Oct. 6, 1668 entry for his marriage that reads "Thos Bunnion to Mary Sammon". Working back from this date, a birth date of about 1648 for Thomas is reasonable, as it would make him about 20 years old at the time of his marriage. Because no baptism entry for him is found at Flitton, he was probably born in another village. As there is also no baptism record for Mary Sammon either, the same could be said for her as well.
Both Silsoe and Flitton sit close to the manor house of Wrest Park, seat of the Earls, and later the Dukes, of Kent. Starting in 1671, Anthony and Mary Grey of Kent began a major reconstruction of the manor house and gardens, an effort that their successors continued. Consequently, most of the population of Silsoe and Flitton were either servants of the estate, or workers involved in the rebuilding. Thus, Thomas and Mary Bunnion were probably either servants or laborers for the Earl of Kent, and their son Thomas Bunnian, was likely a worker there as well. Interestingly, when the Earls of Kent in 1681 held a mortgage on Newbury Manor in Silsoe, one of the rental properties managed by the estate was a close (plot) of land in Flitton Field associated with a house that was occupied at an annual rent of £35 by one Thomas Bunyan.
Although he was eighteen or so years younger, Thomas Bunnyon of Silsoe was a contemporary of, and may have personally known John Bunyan (1628-1688) of Elstow, the celebrated author of The Pilgrim's Progress. The parish of Elstow where John Bunyan was born sits just a few miles north of Silsoe, both towns being on the main road between Bedford and Luton. Also Flitton and Silsoe both border the north side of the parish of Pulloxhill, which is said by Brown (1885) to be the ancestral home of the Elstow Bunyans. Although a connection has yet to be established, it seems very likely that the Elstow and Silsoe branches of the family are somehow related, and no doubt share a common ancestor from Pulloxhil.
The Flitton parish register records the Aug. 16, 1685 burial of Mary "w[ife of] Thos Bunnion" at the graveyard of St. John the Baptist Church. If this Mary and Mary Sammon are the same, then our Thomas would have died sometime after 1685. The register in fact does list a Thomas Bunnion who was buried on Sept. 5, 1714, and another one who was buried on June 15, 1715, with the occupation of the second Thomas given as a laborer. Probably one of these burials is for Mary's husband Thomas, and the other for their son of the same name, who follows. Because we have evidence that this son died in 1714 or earlier, the 1715 death date probably belongs to the father. The parish register and Bishops Transcripts for St. John the Baptist Church in Flitton record the likely children of Thomas and Mary who are listed below. They are the only Bunyans, with one exception, whose names from 1668 to 1685 are found in the Flitton records.
- Thos Bunnion, son of Thos and Mary, baptized August 21, 1669 - who follows.
- [Blank] of Thos Bunnion of S[ilsoe], baptized April 21, 1672.
- George Bunnion, son of Thos and Mary, baptized February 7, 1673.
- James Bunnion, son of Thos and Mary, baptized April 8, 1677.
- Thomas Bunnian (Bunnyon) (c.1669-1714?), the son of Thomas Bunnion of Silsoe and Mary Sammon, was probably born in Flitton with Silsoe, Bedfordshire, as a man of the same name was christened there on Aug. 21, 1669 in the parish church. He is probably the Thos Bunneon who married Alice Bonner on March 23, 1686 in the same village. If he was born the same year he was baptized, then he would have been only 17 years old when he married, which seems a bit young. However, he certainly could have been born some time earlier, and it is also possible that he is not to be identified with the man of the same name who was baptized at Flitton. Irregardless, the Flitton parish register also records a Dec. 29, 1714 burial in the St. John the Baptist graveyard for Alice Bunnyon, widow. This is probably the wife of our Thomas, and makes it likely that the Thomas Bunnyon buried there on Sept. 5, 1714 is her husband.
Some genealogies attempt to identify this Thomas with the Thomas Bunyan (1656-1718) of St. Cuthbert's parish who was the son of John Bunyan of Elstow. If so, Thomas Bunyan of St. Cuthbert's would have been about 30 years old at his wedding, provided he is indeed the one who married Alice Bonner. However, it seems more likely that Thomas Bunyan of St. Cuthbert's in 1686 was actually married to a woman named Frances, and there is no evidence that we have come across to indicate that he ever married a woman named Alice. This makes it highly unlikely that any of the Bunyans of Silsoe descend from John Bunyan of Elstow, despite the hopes of some online genealogies that such a relationship exists.
The parish register and Bishops Transcripts for St. John the Baptist Church in Flitton record the likely children of Thomas Bunyan of Silsoe and nad his wife Alice. These children are listed below. They are the only Bunyans whose names from 1686 to 1707 are found in the Flitton records.
- Joseph Bunneon, son of Thos, baptized May 6, 1688.
- William Bunnyon, son of Thos, baptized September 6, 1696 - who follows.
- Matthew Binnyon, son of Thos, baptized July 17, 1698.
- William Bunnian (Bunnyon) (c.1696-1730?), the son of Thomas Bunnian and Alice Bonner, was probably born in Flitton with Silsoe, Bedfordshire, as he was christened there on Sept. 6, 1696, according to the parish register, with a date of Sept. 20 in the Bishop's Transcripts for the church. William married Ann Day, the daughter of John and Ann Day, on Dec 24, 1722 in Upper Gravenhurst, which is a village a short distance from Flitton. This represents the first appearance of the surname Bunnian (Bunnyon) in the Upper Gravenhurst parish records, which indicates that William was from an adjacent village. Although his village of origin is not recorded, the village of Silsoe is a walk of only a few miles from Upper Gravenhurst. Furthermore a search of the registers of other nearby parishes has not turned up any other individuals with a name resembling Thomas Bunyan.
William's wife Ann was baptized Jan. 14, 1695 in Upper Gravenhurst, and she came from a family who probably had property in Upper Gravenhurst, as she and William apparenty made their home there after their marriage. William may have died in his 30s, as there is record of the Oct. 22, 1730 burial of a William Bunnian at St. Giles's Churchyard in Upper Gravenhurst. The fact that he and Ann had no children baptized after 1730, is consistent with his passing that year. There was an Ann Bunyan buried at St. Giles in 1793, but she is probably William and Ann's daughter-in-law, as the older Ann would have been close to 98-years old at the time. Possibly the older Ann remarried and died under a different surname. William and Ann had at least five children born and baptized between 1723 and 1730 at Upper Gravenhurst, including a son William, who follows.
- William Bunyan (Bunnian) (c.1727-1780), the son of William Bunnian and Ann Day, was probably born in Upper Gravenhurst, Bedfordshire, which is only about three miles east of Flitton and two miles east of Silsoe, as he was christened there on April 30, 1727 in the parish church. He married Anne Godfrey on Sept. 29, 1748. He was buried Aug. 16, 1780 at St. Giles's Churchyard in Upper Gravenhurst, and his wife is probably the Ann Bunyan who on Oct. 19, 1793 was buried there. The parish record indentifies William as a laborer. William and Ann had at least ten children born and baptized between 1748 and 1768. Interestingly their firstborn William, who follows, seems to have been baptized at Clophill, whereas their other nine children that we know about were all baptized at Upper Gravenhurst, which is about two miles southeast of Clophill.
- William Bunyan (1748-1825), the son of William Bunyan and Anne Godfrey, was born in 1848 and christened on March 26, 1749 in the Clophill parish church, Clophill being a village two miles northwest of Upper Gravenhurst. He married Alice Ingram on Nov. 24, 1774 in Shillington, Bedfordshire, a village one mile south of Upper Gravenhurst. He is probably the same William Bunyan who is listed in the Campton parish registers of the 1780s as a laborer, and who died March 5, 1825 at the age of 77 in Campton, where he was buried three days later at the All Saints Churchyard. His wife Alice, who was probably christened Jan. 14, 1750 at Shillington, died April 5, 1830 in Campton at the age of 82 and was buried 6 days later in the grave next to William. Alice and William had several children, who are listed below.
There is record of a William Bunyan, the son of John and Sarah Bunyan (married Nov. 22, 1735), who was christened on Aug. 26, 1750 in Meppershall, which is a village a short distance east of Upper Gravenhurst. Although the evidence points to William Bunyan of Clophill as being the father of the James Bunyan who follows, there is a remote possibility that the father of this James Bunyan is to be identified instead with William Bunyan of Meppershall.
- children - Bunyan
- James Bunyan (c.1778-1851) who follows:
- Elizabeth Bunyan (c.1779-1854?) was probably born in Campton, Bedfordshire, as she was christened there on Dec. 12, 1779 in the parish church. She married a widower named James Flint (c.1784-1862) on Feb. 11, 1814 in Campton, and they moved at some point to Meppershall, near Campton, where some of their children were baptized. We then find them during the 1841 U.K. census in nearby Meppershall. Elizabeth is probably to be identified with the Elizabeth Flint who died in 1854 the Biggleswade Registration District, which includes Campton and Meppershall. Likewise, her husband is probably the James Flint who died in 1865 in the same registration district. Elizabeth and James had a son George Bunyan Flint (1819-1913), who emmigrated in 1872 to Canada and thence to Sherman County, Nebraska with several members of his wife and children. He is buried in an unmarked grave in Litchfield Cemetery in Sherman County, Nebraska, and he has descendants who still live today in the United States.
- William Bunyan (b. c.1782) was born probably in Campton, Bedfordshire, as he was christened there on Jan. 31, 1782 in the parish church. He married Mary Wright (b. c.1786) on Feb. 3, 1815 at All Saints Church in Campton, and they had at least one child, a daughter named Sarah (1825-1883), who was baptized on Feb. 13, 1825 in the Campton Parish Church. Sarah by the age of 15 was living with her Aunt Charlotte, which leads one to speculate that her parents William and Mary may have passed on by then.
- Mary Bunyan (b. c.1784) was probably born in Campton, Bedfordshire, as she was christened there on Jan. 4, 1784 in the parish church. She is a twin.
- Sarah Bunyan (b. c.1784) was probably born in Campton, Bedfordshire, as she christened there on Jan. 4, 1784 in the parish church. She is a twin.
- Thomas Bunyan (c.1788-1845) was probably born in Campton, Bedfordshire, as he was christened there on Nov. 30, 1788 in the parish church. He died in 1845 in Upper Gravenhurst, and was buried Jan. 14 at the age of 56 years in St. Giles Churchyard.
- George Bunyan (c.1791-1819) was probably born in Campton, Bedfordshire, but his baptism is not listed in the Campton parish register. He died in Campton on July 25, 1819 at the age of 28 and is buried in the Church of All Saints graveyard next to his parents.
- Charlotte Bunyan (c.1792-1876) was probably born in Campton, Bedfordshire, as she was christened there on Dec. 23, 1792 in the parish church. She apparently took over the care for her niece Sarah Bunyan (1825-1833) at some point, perhaps due to the death of Sarah's parents, and she and Sarah were living in Meppershall from 1841 to 1861 in the household of Charlotte's sister Elizabeth Flint. Charlotte died a spinster in 1876 at the age of 83 in the Biggleswade registration district.
- James Bunyan (c.1778-1851) is probably the son of the William Bunyan and Alice Ingram shown above, but as already noted there is some uncertainty. He was probably born in Campton, Bedfordshire, a village two miles northeast of Upper Gravenhurst, as he was christened in Campton on Feb. 22, 1778 in the parish church, which shows his parents to be William Bunyan and Alice. He likely was raised in Campton, but he married Jane Munns on Nov. 26, 1801 in Sandy, Bedfordshire. Jane, who had been born about 1766, was the daughter of Joseph Munns (1736-1800) and Elizabeth Sole (b. 1741) of Sandy, and the grandaughter of Thomas Munns (b. 1702) and Elizabeth Cage (b. 1704), who were from the same village.
The 1841 U.K. Census shows that James was a carpenter by trade, which makes it likely that he is the same James Bunyan who is said in 1803 to have built the New Inn at Campton Turn, which was located just outside the north part of town where Campton Road joins the main highway between Ampthill and Shefford. That inn is not to be confused with another New Inn that was built in 1836 on Northbridge Street on the opposite side of nearby Shefford. Interestingly, James' son of the same name later ran the New Inn at Campton Turn, which closed in 1983, about 180 years after it opened. The inn was torn down in 1987 when it was deemed unsafe (see the Bedford Bourough Council timeline for Campton). A private home now occupies the site.
The 1841 U.K. Census also shows that at the time Ann Bunyan, the 13-year old grandaughter of James and Jane, as well as Jane's sister Lucy Munns, were members of the Bunyan household. Although James at first glance appears to be wider traveled than others in his family, the towns he is associated with - Campton, Sandy, Shefford and Upper Gravenhurst - in fact all sit within just a 4½-mile radius centered on the town of Shefford. Jane died first in 1847 in Upper Gravenhurst (Biggleswade registration district) and was buried Feb. 23. James died next in 1851 in Campton (Biggleswade registration district) and was buried March 5. The tombstones for both stand in St. Marys Churchyard in Lower Gravenhurst, where their grandaughter Ann is buried. James and Jane had at least two children, who follow.
- children - Bunyan
- James Bunyan (c.1803-1875) who follows:
- George Bunyan was probably born in Campton, Bedfordshire, as he was christened there on Dec. 16, 1804 in the parish church.
The New Inn at Campton Turn (left), which is shown here about 1900, was built by James Bunyan, Sr. about 1803.
His son was then proprietor of this same inn from at least 1839 until about 1869. There is yet another New Inn
(right), located nearby on Northbridge Street, shown here about 1910, that the Bunyans are not associated with.
Both establishments were in or near Shefford, but on opposite sides of town. Both have now been torn down.
- James Bunyan (c.1803-1875), the son of James Bunyan and Jane Munns, was probably born in Campton, Bedfordshire, as he was christened there on Feb. 6, 1803 in the parish church. He married Mary Ann Dew on Nov. 24, 1826 in Gamlingay, Cambridgeshire, which is a mere 11 miles as the crow flies from Campton, and is where Mary Ann in 1806 was born. Mary is almost certainly the Mary Ann Dew, who was baptized with three of her siblings and two of her cousins on March 10, 1813 in Gamlingay. If so, then Mary is the daughter of John Dew and Lucy East (married 1803 in Gamlingay), and the grandaughter of Thomas Dew and Ann Paine (married 1776 in Gamlingay). Mary's husband James is listed in the Campton parish records of the 1820s and 1830s as a blacksmith, and this was probably his livelyhood at the time of his marriage, but we learn that in 1839 he held a license to run the New Inn on the road to Ampthill, an occupation that almost certainly would have required the participation of his wife.
Interestingly there was not one New Inn in the area, but two, the other New Inn being located at Northbridge Street on the far side of nearby Shefford. Needless to say there is some confusion as to which New Inn James Bunyan is associated with. However, he almost certainly ran the inn at Campton Turn, as this is the one on the road to Ampthill, the other New Inn being in the actual town of Shefford. Also, the New Inn at Campton Turn was built in 1803 by another James Bunyan, whom we would assume is the father of our 1839 tavern keeper. This then would seem to indicate that the inn had passed down from father to son. Finally, Pigot's 1839 directory lists James Bunyan as proprietor of the New Inn on Ampthill Road, and the post office directories for 1847, 1854 and 1864 show him as proprietor of the New Inn in Campton, which removes any doubt as to which of the two inns belonged to the Bunyan family.
The younger James Bunyan is shown in both the 1851 and 1861 U.K. Census as a victualler, which generally indicates someone who had a license to sell spirits, which is consistent with his being a tavern keeper. These census returns also show James and wife Mary Ann Bunyan living at Bury Farm, which is located on Campton Road on the southwest side of Meppershall. The 1864 Post Office Directory for Bedfordshire still shows James Bunyan to be the proprietor of the New Inn, but it would appear that by 1869 ownership of the tavern had passed to another.
Interestingly, Henry Hare of Upper Gravenhurst is identified in 1833 as both an innkeeper and a farmer, and the 1864 Bedfordshire Post Office Directory lists him as a beer retailer, as well as a farmer. This makes it likely that Henry Hare and James Bunyan did business with each other on occasions. Given that Henry's daughter married James' son, it seems all the more likely that the two were business associates.
James died on Aug. 15, 1875 in Campton, and Mary Ann died there on July 21, 1874, Campton being in Biggleswade registration district, which is the location given in the government death records. James' death certificate lists him as a former publican, which means a licensed tavern keeper, and Mary Ann's identifies her as the wife of a publican. It is likely that both are buried in St. Mary's Churchyard in Lower Gravenhurst, where James' parents, and James and Mary Ann's daughter Ann are buried, but this needs to be confirmed. Both may also be buried in the All Saints Churchyard in Campton, where James's grandparents rest. James and Mary Ann appear had at least the two daughters who follow.
- children - Bunyan
- Ann Bunyan (1827-1903) who follows:
- Hephzibah Bunyan (c.1833-1870) was probably born in Campton, Bedfordshire, as she was christened there on Sept. 5, 1833 in the parish church. She appears in her grandparents John and Mary Ann Lucy Dew's household in Cambridgeshire during the 1851 U.K. Census, and not long afterwards she was married on November 24, 1826 in the Biggleswade registration district to Thomas Mulett (c.1823-1876) of Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. They resided in various towns in the area of Wycombe, where they had at least five children - Laura Jane (c.1833-1870), Rosa Ann (1860-1890), Frederick John Bunyan (1862-1929), Georgiana Mary (1864-1940) and Hephziba (1866-1941). The elder Hephzibah died in 1870 in the Wycombe area, and her husband Thomas died on March 3, 1876 in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.
Ann Bunyan (1827-1903), the daughter of James Bunyan and Mary Ann Dew, was born in 1827 in Campton, Bedfordshire, a village less than two miles northeast of Upper Gravenhurst. We have not found her baptism record, but she was probably christened in Campton, like her sister and her father. Her parents were tavern keepers who ran the New Inn at Campton Turn on the road to Ampthill, and she no doubt spent much time in the tavern as a child. She married Henry Hare on Feb 15, 1849 in Upper Gravenhurst, Bedfordshire. Her husband Henry was a prominent farmer, who eventually served as Mayor of Upper Gravenhurst, and he and Ann raised a large family on his farm. Ann died in the Biggleswade registration district in 1903, about eleven years after the death of Henry, and both are buried near their son James, and near Henry's parents in the St. Marys Churchyard in Lower Gravenhurst.
Ann believed that she was descended from John Bunyan, the author of the christian allegory, The Pilgrim's Progress, and that belief was firmly ingrained in her children and grandchildren. However, most professionally published genealogies - and Urwick (1888), Brown (1928) and Arnold (2006) in particular - show that no male descendants of John Bunyan still carried the Bunyan family name by the time Ann was born. Also, the lineage presented here demonstrates that Ann is most likely descended from Thomas Bunnion of Silsoe (b. c.1643), who was a contemporary of the celebrated John Bunyan (1628-1688), and not a member of his immediate family. However, there is an interesting twist to this story. Ann's mother Mary Ann Dew is the older sister of one Philip Dew (1816-1863) of Gamlingay, Cambridgeshire, and there is a tradition among Philip's descendants in Australia that he was also a descendant of John Bunyan (Dew, 1985, p. 11). If true, then Ann Bunyan may indeed be descended from John Bunyan in the female line. However, a search of the Gamlingay parish registers has yet to demonstrate any connection between the ancestors of May Ann Dew, and any possible descendants of John Bunyan.
Please see the Hare Genealogy for Ann and Henry's children.
Several online family histories mistakenly identify Ann Bunyan, the wife of Henry Hare, with an Ann Bunyan who was born in Caddington, Bedfordshire to parents James Bunyan and Ann Fensome, whereas the wife of Henry Hare is actually the Ann Bunyan who was born in Campton, Bedfordshire to parents James Bunyan and Mary Ann Dew. These genealogies fail to recognize that several women by the name of Ann Bunyan were living in Bedfordshire in the mid-1800s. Several facts clearly point to the correct identity of Ann.
First - UK Census returns from 1851 to 1901 all indicate Ann's birthplace is Campton, not Caddington.
Second - George Henry Hare (b. c.1850), the eldest son of Ann Bunyan and Henry Hare, appears in the 1871 UK Census in the household of his grandparents James and Mary Ann Bunyan of Campton. No tie ever appears between the Hare household and that of James and Ann Bunyan of Caddington.
Third - Campton is located less than two miles from Upper Gravenhurst, the home of Henry Hare, whereas Caddington is at least eight miles away on the far side of Luton, which was a fairly large town in those days. No doubt Henry Hare traveled to Luton more than a few times and knew people there, but it is much less likely that he or his father had the contacts in a village on the far side of Luton with which to arrange a marriage.
Fourth - Ann Bunyan of Caddington actually married Soloman Perry, not Henry Hare.
Fifth - Ann Hare is the informant on the 1875 death certificate of James Bunyan of Campton.
Bedford Borough Council Community Archives (online source - formerly the Befordshire Virtual Library):
- The New Inn Northbridge Street Shefford
- The New Inn Ampthill Road Shefford
- Timeline for Campton (see entry for date 1983)
Arnold, Clive (2008), The Bunyan Family Tree, Pilgrim House Elstow, 1 p. This pedigree is the one supported by the Moot Hall (Meeting Hall) Museum in Elstow, the birth place and home of John Bunyan. Part of the mission of the museum is preservation of the buildings, artifacts and letters associated with John Bunyan.
Clive Arnold consults for the Moot Hall (Meeting Hall) Museum in Elstow, and he has researched and published the most comprehensive (to date) version of the Bunyan family tree. He now helps "people, who think they may be related to the Elstow Bunyans, to check their genealogy. Unfortunately, there is much incorrect data about this family on geneology websites, which misleads many into thinking they are Bunyan's descendants. Sadly, we have yet to find a verifiable living descendant of the Elstow Bunyans."
Bedfordshire Family History Society, Transcripts of Bedfordshire Parish Registers, including baptism, marriage, and burial records (and in some cases memorial inscriptions) of Campton and Shefford, Flitton (with Silsoe), Lower Gravenhurst, and Upper Gravenhurst. Published by Bedfordshire Family History Society, and available on CD from The Parish Chest.
Brown, John, 1885, John Bunyan: His Life, Times and Work (1928 Edition): Riverside Press, Cambridge, p. 397-426.
UK Census Records, 1841-1901 and Parish Baptism, Marriage and Burial Records: online databases available on Ancestry.com, Familysearch.org, and Find My Past.
Dew, Clarice O., 1985, Philip and Sarah Elizabeth Dew: A History and Record of Their Lives and Descendants 1816-1985: Privately Published, Wauchope, Australia, 63 p. Available from the Salt Lake City Family History Library. Call Number 929.294 D51.
Descendants of the Celebrated John Bunyan
Emmison, F.G.(editor), Bedfordshire Parish Records, Published by the Bedford County Record Office, Shire Hall, several volumes with publication beginning in 1931.
FamilySearch.org - Online Genelaogy Databases
Urwick, William, 1888, Pedigree of the Family of John Bunyan in Bible Truths and Church Errors, Including a Lecture on John Bunyan Not a Baptist: T.Fisher Unwin, London, p. 104. A pedigree based on the research of Brown (1888), which is referenced above.
Vital Records Certificates (Birth, Marriage, Death) from 1837 to the present for Great Britain available from the General Register Office.