- JOHN FIELD (Richard, William, William, Thomas, Thomas, John, Thomas, Roger), b. about 1525, East Ardsley, England; m. 1560, Jane Amyas, dau. of John: d. Aug. 30, 1609. He d. May, 1587. Res. Ardsley, England.
John Field has been styled "the proto-Copernican of England, inasmuch as he was the first to make known in that country by his writings the discoveries of this remarkable man, who delayed for a long time the publication of his famous work, "De Orbium Coelestium Revolutionibus," on account of the opposition and persecution to be feared from persons who considered its teachings opposed to those of the Bible. Although completed in 1530, it was not printed till 1543, when its author was on his death-bed. Works based on the new system (which revolutionized the science of astronomy) by Rheticus and Reinhold had appeared in Germany a few years earlier, but the "Ephemeris" of John Field for 1557 which was published in that year, was the first opportunity afforded the people of England of becoming acquainted with the true motions of the heavenly bodies. In the following year he issued a similar work, calculated for 1558, 1559, 1560. Probably these were not his only publications, but no others have come down to us, and only two copies of these are known to exist, the British Museum and Bodleian Library, at Oxford, each possessing both works.
John Field was born probably between 1510 and 1520. It could not have been much after the last date, as he was co-executor of his father's will in 1542. Wood, the historian of Oxford University, claims that he belonged to that sect of learning, which is not improbable, as his writings show that he had received a good classical education. It has been impossible to find anything of him anywhere from the date of his father's will, 1542, to the publication of his first "Ephemeris," 1557, when he was residing in London, where he may have and quite likely did pass the fourteen years intervening. A portion of the time he, not improbably, spent abroad, and no doubt acquired in Germany his knowledge of, and zeal for, the new theories, which he promulgated afterward in his native land.
By a patent, dated Sept. 4, 1558, the heralds formerly recognized his right to the family arms; Sable, a chevron between three garbs argent, and at the same time they granted to him the following crest: A dexter arm issuing out of clouds fesseways proper, habited gules, holding in the hand, also proper, a sphere or. This appropriate crest may be considered a recognition of his services to the cause of astronomy.
We assume that it was about 1560 that he married Jane, daughter of John Amyas, of Kent, as she is described in the Herald's visitation of Yorkshire in 1584-85. Mr. Hunter in an article referred to elsewhere, says that he had searched in vain for genealogical information in Kent without discovering anything of this lady, or her family. This failure is easily explained by the fact that the Amyas was not a Kentish, but a Yorkshire name. The family had been seated in the. immediate neighborhood of Ardsley from a early date. In all probability John Amyas removed from there to Kent, and possibly his wife's family belonged to that county. As far back as the first of Edward I. the tolls of Wakefield manor were let to John de Amyas for £100 a year. His daughter, Matilda, married John Waterton, of Walton, whose family has been for centuries one of the most distinguished of that neighborhood. The Amyas's were seated for generations at Sandal, Harbury and Thornhill, all of which are within half a dozen miles of East Ardsley, where John Field resided. There is no question but he chose a wife among his neighbors and friends. On Oct. 29, 1481, the rector of Methley had license to marry John Amias, of Thornhill, and Margaret Medley. Robert Amyas was instituted vicar of Peniston, May 24, 1498. Hunter, the historian of South Yorkshire, says that he was of the Sandal family. There are two shields carved at the end of stalls in Sandal church\emdash one with the Percy arms impaling first and fourth Frost and second and third Amyas\emdash the last coat being on a bend three roses. The other has also the Percy arms impaling Amyas. Above is the inscription "Orate pro bono statu Joselyng Pyrcy Armegery."
Joselyn Percy was fourth son of the fourth Earl of Northumberland, and married Margaret, only child of William Frost, of Beverly and Featherston. This lady inherited from her father lands in Sandal and elsewhere. Jocelyn Percy died in 1532, and his father-in-law, Frost, in 1529. We learn by the inquisition post mortem on this Jocelyn, held at Wakefield, the year of his death, that Frost's wife was Ann Ranson. She was probably the second one, and the first, and mother of Margaret, an Amyas. The parish registers of Roystone, which is some five miles south of Sandal, began in 1558. There are several entries in the earlier part which relate to persons by the name of Amyas, as, for instance, the burial of Elizabeth Amyas in 1569, and the baptism of "Beatris" Amyas in 1585. Probably John Field returned to East Ardsley not long after his marriage. We find him there at the time of the Herald's visitation of Yorkshire, in 1584-5, when he recorded the names of his wife and children, but for some reason, which the writer cannot explain, did not give the names of his ancestors, not even that of his father.
John Field, of East Ardsley, co-executor of his father's will, had the family arms confirmed, and a crest granted to him Sept. 4, 1558. The Herald's visitation of Yorkshire, 1585, records the names of himself, wife and children. His will, dated Dec. 28, 1586, was proved May 3, 1587.
Jane, daughter of John Amyas, of Kent, executrix of her husband's will. Her own is dated July 17. 1609. Buried at East Ardsley, Aug. 3, 1609.
Although John Field was one of the most distinguished pioneers in the cause of science of whom England can boast, his memory has been almost entirely and unjustly neglected by his countrymen, and even in astronomical circles his is hardly, or not at all known. For further information in relation to him the reader is referred to Gentleman's Magazine, May, 1834, to an article by Rev. Joseph Hunter, and November, 1862, to an article by Osgood Field,
WILL OF JOHN FIELD, THE ASTRONOMER.\emdash In the name of God Amen the xxxiith day of December a thousand fyve hundreth eyghtie size Anno Regine Dne nre Elizabeth Regina viscessimo nono, I John Feld of Ardeslowe in the Countie of York farmer sometymes studente in the mathy mathicales sciences, beinge weake and feble in bodie but of good and pfect memorie laud and prayse be unto Almyghtie God, do make, ordeyne and declare this my pesent testament conteyninge therein my last will in maner and forme followinge, that is to say:
First and principallie I bequeathe and comende my soule unto Almightie God my Creator and to his dearlie beloved sonne Jesus Christ my onelie Saviour and Redemer, in whome and by the merritts of whose most precious deathe and glorious passion, resurrection and assencon I hope and stedfastlie beleve to have full and cleare remission, pdone and forgivenes of all my synes and offences. And my bodie to the earthe to be buried wthin the pshe church porche* of Ardeslowe where I am now a prsheoner.
Itm I will that all suche debts and somes of money whatsoever as I shalbe indetted in, or owe of Right by bound obligatorie, bill or conscience unto any psone or psons at the tyme of my decease shalbe well and trulie answered, satisfied and paid by my executrix hereafter named.
Itm whereas I do stand bound unto John Franklyne of little chart in the Countie of Kent, esquier, by my deed obligatorie in the some of two, or three hundrethe pounds wth condicon that yt God do calle me out of the world before my wyfe Jane Feild, that then I shall leave her the said Jane worthe the some of one hundrethe poundes at the least in money plait, household stute or other shattalles as by the condicon of the said obligacon mor at large yet dothe and shall appeare. In consideracon whereof as well in pforrnance of the same condicon of the same obligacon as also for divers other good causes and consideracons me nowe movinge. I do give unto the said Jane Feild my wife my whole intrest title and farmehold lease or leases and terme of yeares wch I now have, or shall have hereafter of my farmehold wherein I nowe dwell. And the water corne mylne belonginge to the same, wth all the houses, buyldinges, lands, tenements, pfytts and hereditaments whatsoever wth all and singular their appurtenances to the same belonginge, or in any wyse appteyninge, as I nowe the said John Feild enjoyeth the same wth the moytie or one half of all my moveable goodes. as oxen, kyne, yonge beastes, cattalles, horses, meares, colts and calves and the moytie, or one halfe of all my said moveable goodes, as gucke or dead whatsoever. And also the moytie or one halfe of all my corne nowe in the barne and growinge on the ground nowe sowne, wth the moytie of my hay. Also I give unto her all my goodes wthin my bed Chamber wherein I nowe lye, wth all household stufe and furniture wthin the same Chamber to her propr use for ever. And the said Jane to have and to hold the said farmehold her naturall lyfe yff the said lease, or leases so long contynewe. And yf yt it fortune her to dye before the ende of the same lease, or leases be expired then my will is that she shall bye her will and testament in writinge, or otherwise disposse the same her intrest and possession of my said farmehold to some such one of my child, or children as to her wisdome shall best be licked of.
Itm I do gyve to James Feild and Martyne Feild my two yongest sonnes all my plate and Jewelles of gould and sylver equallie to be divided betwixt them wth eyther of them a bedstead wth the furnitur, havinge a fetherbed, blanketts, sheets, and counterpayntes to the same.
Itm I do gyve unto f yve hundrethe poure folkes peny dole, and dynynge all my poure neighboures, the day of my burial, as shortlie after as may be.
Itm I do give to all my god children twelve pence apece at my wyfes discrecon.
Itm I do give to my cosine Nowell and Xpofer his sonne some cott or dublatt at my wyfes discrecon.
Itm to Willm Medley some hose or cott at her discrecon.
Itm I do give to my gossoppe Willm Shereley and Rowland of the newe pke my huntiage horne wth the rest pteyninge to yt, wth an Inglishe booke at my wyfes discrecon.
Itm I do give to my maid Alice Butler and to my mam John Hill. yf he please and be obedient and serviceable to my wyfe, attendinge my svice trulie some such like consideration and remembrance as shall seame good to my wyfe's discrecon.
Itm I do give to my dislyall and loose lyved sonne Richard Feild one sylver spoone in full payment and satisfacon of his child's porcon wth wch yf he be not satisfied I will he lose the benefytt of the same.
The Rest and Residue of all my goodes whatsoever, my debts paid and my funerall expences discharged, I give and bequeath the residue to my eight children, to be bestowed upon them equalie at the discrecon of my wyfe at such tymes and lessons as they shalbe thought sufficient by their good mother to order and disposes the same with the consent of my supervisors of this my last will and testament hereafter to be named.
ltm I do ordeyne and applynt the said Jane Feild my true and lawfull wife to be my sole executrix of this my last will and testament and do nominate for my supvisoures Roberte Greenwood, gentleman, and Roberte Abbott of Bentley, tanner, wth Mr. Wm. Dyneley of Swillington to be supervisors of this my last will and testament, pratinge them and everie of them to pforme the speciall trust I have reposed in them, to see the same executed accordinge to my conscience and my true meanynge of the same.
In witnes whereof I the said John Feild to this my psent last will and testament have sett my hand and seale the day and yeare above written.
These beinge witnesses and sealed and delived in the psence of me John Naler, John Adamsone.
Proved May 3, 1587.
*Jane, widow of John Field, in her will, dated 1609, desire "my bodie to be buried by my husband,: John Feild, in Ardslaw church porch."