At the end of the seventeenth century, in the reign of William and Mary, French privateers were the scourge of the English Channel. In his book, ‘The history of the town and county of Poole’, published in 1839, John Sydenham describes the actions of two local seamen against them,
The Sydenham family had owned and lived on the estate at Wynford Eagle near Maiden Newton, Dorset for well over 100 years by the time William Sydenham married Mary Jeffery, the daughter of John Jeffery of Catherston in 1611. William himself, having inherited the estate at about the age of fourteen on his grandfathers death in 1607, his own father having died before he was one year old. In this quiet rural backwater William and Mary were to have ten children, and must have taken great pride in their five sons who reached manhood.