Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Staffordshire Proof of Age, 4 February 1432

720. Pages 384-5 of Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem / 6-10 Henry VI / 1427-1432, Boydell Press / National Archives (of the United Kingdom). At Stafford, Staffordshire.

Robert Harecourt [Harcourt], son of Thomas Harecourt, Chevalier, deceased, needs to prove his age: that he is now of age, and the inheritance being held safely for him by his father's widow, and others, should be given him now. (For more on this Robert Harcourt, see, for example, Magna Carta Ancestry by Douglas C. Richardson, p. 408.)

These generally involve statements by locals that they know the year a person was born because they experienced some particular event at that same time, and they know the date of their own event. It seems that a preponderance of evidence of this sort is accepted as a proof.

I'm not sure yet what the qualifications are for these witnesses, beyond the ability to speak and the appearance that they are mentally competent.

Here I summarize:

1. Richard Nowell, aged 60 years and more: i.e. in 1432, he was at least 60, so was born about 1372;
* swears Robert Harecourt was born at Ellenhall, baptised in the church there, and was 21 years old on 20 September 1431.
* He knows this because his father, William Nowell, was buried in the church of Chebsey on that day, 20 September 1410.

Now: we know a birth and a death date, and a location for William and son Richard Nowell.

2. Roger Swyneshed, age 50 and more, married Alice his wife, still living.
* born 1382; married, perhaps circa 1402, Alice ______, both still alive in 1432.

3. William Warde, age 46 and more, carried a basin with ewer at the baptism.
* born 1386, and has some connection with Ellenhall and/or the church there and/or the Harcourt family.

4. Richard Ward, age 47 and more; at that time his son William Warde was confirmed by the bisop of coventry and Lichfield at Eccleshall.
* born 1385, has a son William who was confirmed by the Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield at Eccleshall. William was thus probably seven (but could have been younger) in 1410.

5. John Feruxhalgh, age 45 and more, knows because his grange at Shallowford caught fire then.
* born 1387, lived nearby. I'm not sure what modern spelling of this name might be.

6. Humphrey Wetwode, age 50 and more, raised a new hall at [High or Bishop's] Offley.
* born 1382, lived at Offley.

7. Thomas Jerveys, age 51, was godfather to Thomas, son of Nicholas Jerveys, who was baptised at Eccleshall.
* Thomas, born 1381, is related (great-uncle) to Nicholas Jervey; Nicholas' son Thomas born 1410.

8. John Jerveys, age 60 and more, was at Ellenhall at the baptism, carrying a candle.
* born 1372, living at Ellenhall, perhaps connected to the Harcourt family or staff. Probably related to Nicholas and the two Thomas Jervyses, but not stated how; proximity suggests connection.

9. Richard Banastore, age 48 and more, had son John Banastore born and baptised at Gnosall.
* born 1384, son born 1410 in Gnosall.

10. William Preston, age 50 and more; his daughter Alice Preston married Richard Jurdan in the church of Stafford.
* born 1382; daughter Alice married in 1410 (quite young, it would seem) to Richard Jurdan

11. Roger Gawode, age 48 and more, was riding to Stafford when he fell from his horse and broke his arm.
* born 1384.

12. John Bedolf, age 57 and more, took seisin of a messuage in Eccleshall from Richard Bedolf, chaplain
* born 1375; bought houselot in 1410 from someone who may be related; Richard Bedolf may be at the hall or in the town church. His name would probably be spelled Biddulph today, and there are Biddulphs in the Eccleshall paris register for 1602.

Ellenhall, Eccleshall, Shallowford, the Offleys, Gnosall, and Chebsey are all very close to each other, and slightly to the west and north of Stafford.

Following up the Warde surnames above, I have no notes from these towns, though there were Ward families in Stafford, and Tillington nearby.

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