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Humphrey Wollascrofte c1545- of Alton, Staffordshire
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Humphrey Wollascrofte c1545-

of Alton, Staffordshire

Humphrey Wollascroft was most likely the son of Roger and Cecily Wollascroft who were living in Great Birchford, Staffordshire, England when they died in 1557. He was under 21 at the time of his parents death.

The next mention of Humphrey is in the will of William Beardmore of Farley, Staffordshire, England written in 1598 and proved at Lichfield on the 20 September 1598. William Beardmore left Humphrey’s son a “Hogge”.

Humphrey Wooascrofte 1598

Extract from the will of William Beardmore proved 20 Sep 1598

In 1600 Humphrey is mentioned in the will of his father in law Ralph Clarke which was proved at Lichfield on the 13 May. Humphrey was executor of the will with Ralph’s daughter Jone. Ralph also mentions his other children Anthony, William, Grace, Elizabeth and Margaret and his wife Felis. Ralph died in December 1599 and his inventory was taken on the 11 December. He had written his will a few months earlier on the 24 February 1598/9. Interestingly one of the appraisers of his inventory was John Laughtenhouse who was most likely the father of William Laughtenhouse who left part of his estate to Bonaventure Wolverscroft in 1649.

There are several references to Humphrey amongst the transcribed Quarter Session Rolls for Staffordshire (SRS 1940) between 1603 and 1609. Humphrey was a Licensed Victualler living in Farley, Staffordshire. He applied for a license as a victualler to run a Tavern or Ale House in 1603 at Farley. Bonaventure Hartshorne stood as his bondsman (sponser) on this occasion and again in 1604. In 1605 Rob Shenton of Farley and Robert Smyth of Cotton stood as his sponsor.  The bond was £20. In turn Humphrey stood as sponsor for different Landlords during this time in Okeover, Denstone, Kingsley and Alton.

A licence to become a victualler was granted annually. As part of his application Humphrey had to declare he would not operate a disorderly establishment and enter into certain obligations before the court could issue a license.  This was  known as a Recognizance or Bond and in Staffordshire the individual had to have a sponsor or bondsman as a surety. Landlords that failed to keep to the rules of the license would appear before the Quarter Sessions on charges of 'keeping a disorderly house'. The same documents also give Humphrey's occupation as a husbandman and webster (weaver).

In 1609 Humphrey's wife inherited in the will of Ellen Beardmore, the wife of William who died in 1598. Humphrey was an appraiser of her inventory. I have not so far found another mention of Humphrey after this date. Unfortunately the early parish records for Alton have not survived the passage of time so it is difficult to say with certainty if Humphrey and his wife had children other than the unnamed son mentioned in the will of William Beardmore. 

Humphrey Wooascrofte 1609

Extract from the will of Ellen Beardmore proved in 1609 mentioning Humphrey's wife.

However, on the 20 Jan 1640/1 the probate for a John Woolliscroft was granted at Alstonefield, Staffordshire ('Calender of Wills', Lichfield Joint Record Office). I think that is very likely this is Humphrey's unnamed son. However, the documents has not survived. The evidence suggests John had two children. John who is the 'John of Farley' referred to in the will of Leonard Woolliscroft in 1642 and was buried at Alton, Staffordshire in 1702 and Mary who married Robert Anson at Leek, Staffordshire in 1656. Mary was said to be of the parish of Alveton when she married.  John of Farley in turn had a son John referred to in the same will. This John is most likely the John who was living in Biggin and Doveridge area of Derbyshire in the early 1700's.

This raises the question as to who were the parents of the Cauldon brother’s. I'm pretty confident in saying they are related to Humphrey as they bear the family names of Roger, Humphrey, Leonard and William. At a guess I would think Bonaventure was the youngest son as he was not given a family name. This is quite an uncommon first name and it may be that he was called by this name because of Humphrey's association with Bonaventure Hartshorne. [Bonaventure Hartshorne was the son in law of William & Ellen Beardmore. He was churchwarden in the early 1600's at Alton. He died in 1629 (probate records)]. 

After considering the evidence available I think it more likely that the Cauldon brothers are Humphrey's children from a second marriage or his grandchildren. If they are Humphries children he would have been aged between 60 and 70 at the time of their birth, not impossible but unlikely.  I think it more likely they are the children of John or a sibling of his. John of Farley is not referred to as the brother of the Cauldon brothers in any document I have had sight of so far in my research. In fact in the wills including that of William Laughtenhouse only Leonard, Bonaventure and William are referred to as “natural” brother’s. John of Farley mentioned in the will of Leonard Woolliscroft in 1642 being their half brother or cousin. This may also be true Humphrey and Roger who are not referred to as brothers in the wills. However, Bonaventure Wolverscroft refers to Roger's daughter Mary as his niece in his will proved in 1677. 

Names used to describe the relationship between different members of a family in wills of this period were far more 'flexible' than they are today. 

This argument is reflected in the family tree I have on these pages. If you have evidence to suggest another theory or help in our understanding please get in touch.

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