Part I. In the year 1700 Thomas Atcherley, an ironmonger by trade, moved from No 41 High Street, Wrexham, into a house and shop on the corner of Hope Street and Back Chamber Street. He remained there until at least 1721, and it appears that he bought the property as it remained in his family for two more generations, into the early 1800s. Thomas’s move to this address may well have been connected with his marriage, which probably took place either in 1700 itself or in the late 1690s. Note my use of the word ‘probably’ – I have yet to find a record of Thomas Atcherley’s wedding.
This view towards Wrexham’s town hall, though dating from the beginning of the 1800s, would probably have been familiar to Thomas Atcherley.
My estimate of the year of Thomas’s nuptials is based on the date of his first son’s baptism. This ceremony took place in 1701, not at Wrexham but on the other side of the Welsh border, at Baschurch in Shropshire. The register of All Saints church shows that “Richard ye son of Thomas Atcherley of Wrexam Iron-monger was baptized ye 12th day of August”. It appears that Richard was not only baptised but born in Baschurch parish, for the record of his admission to St John’s College, Cambridge University, in 1719, states: “Richard, son of Thomas Acherley, ironmonger (mercatoris ferrarii), Salop; born at Stannerdine near Shrewsbury”. ‘Stannerdine’ was of course Stanwardine in the Fields, the ancestral home of the Atcherleys.
Although many of his forebears were born at Stanwardine, Thomas Atcherley was not. The youngest son of Richard Atcherley and of Richard’s wife Susanna (nee Brookes), his birth place was Wolverley in the parish of Wem. His baptism, at the parish church of St Peter and St Paul in 1672, was recorded thus: “Thomas the son of Susant Acherley widd. was Baptized the 14th day of July”. Thomas’s father Richard had been buried at the same church just over three months earlier on 6 April.
Richard’s last will and testament (in which his surname was throughout written as Atcherley, though he himself signed it as Richard Atcherly) was made on 3 April 1672. In it, Richard made various provisions for his “sone or daughter which is not now borne” including this: “there being one child unborne of my wife & if this child haptten to be a boy I leave that fiftey Pounds to bind him to Apprentes to A good trade”.
It seems that Thomas was apprenticed to an ironmonger, and pursued that trade once his apprenticeship was completed. Business, based on the evidence we have already seen, was good – not only was Thomas able to buy a property to house his family and his shop in Wrexham, he could also afford to send his first-born son to the University of Cambridge.
Four more children followed. “Martha ye daughter of Thomas Atcherley of Wrexam yeom.” was baptised at Baschurch on 9 August 1703; sadly, she died at the age of 8, and was buried at Wrexham on 30 Apr 1712. “Mary ye daughter of Thomas Atcherley of Wrexam Ironmonger” was also baptised at Baschurch, on 24 April 1706. She married Roger Kynaston, a gentleman, on 4 June 1737 at Dudleston and lived with him at Lee in the parish of Ellesmere, where she bore him two daughters. Predeceasing her husband, she was buried at Ellesmere St Mary on 9 May 1758.
The first of Thomas Atcherley’s children to be baptised at Wrexham’s church of St Giles (pictured right) was his youngest son, Roger, on 1 November 1712. The parish register gives his date of birth as 2 October. Roger went on to produce another generation of Atcherleys, and I shall in time write more about him. Then came Thomas’s youngest daughter, Elizabeth, born on 2 July 1715 and baptised on the 22nd of that month. I have found no other records relating to her.
Wrexham’s parish register shows that Thomas Atcherley was a church warden in 1706-7 and 1707-8, and an entry dated 14 December 1714 recording the burial of “Mrs Shusan Acherley widdow of w.r.” (w.r. being an abbreviation for Wrexham Regis) is evidence that Thomas’s mother Susanna lived with him (or at least near him) in her later years. But nowhere in Wrexham’s register, or in that of Baschurch, is Thomas Atcherley’s wife named.
Thankfully, there are other documents in which the name of Thomas’s wife was given. Those documents relate to a long legal battle fought between Thomas and his sister-in-law, Ann, a battle which his wife and eldest son and heir were dragged into. And so we find, among the Depositions taken by Commission in the first year of the reign of George II, now held by the UK National Archives, the case of “Thomas Acherley and his wife Mary, Richard Acherley. v. Anne Acherley, widow”.
But who was Mary?
Part II. In the year 1703 Mary Atcherley of Stanwardine in the Fields died, and was buried at Baschurch All Saints on 9 June. She had known for some time that it would not be long before she joined her late husband John Atcherley in the afterlife, and had made her last will on 26 April. In that will which she commended her soul to Almighty God and her body to Christian burial, and gave directions for the disposal of her worldly estate.
To her eldest son, Roger Atcherley, Mary left:
all the Goods in the parlour as they now stand the andirons in the best Chamber the winscott skreen in the hall all the tables forms shelves and dresser in any part of the house belowe staires as they now stand a broad brass Kettle in the Pantry the Racks in the hall and Kitchen the Green Curtain Bed with all that belonges to it vizt two feather beds a bolster & pillow three of the best blankets in the house a green Coverlet three pair of the best sheets one pillowbier two small diaper table Cloths half a dosen damask napkins a feather bed in the studdy with two blankets a green Coverlette & curtains as they now stand all the Timber lying on the Land all the muck and straw
“Thomas Acherley of Salop” (Shrewsbury), Mary’s only other surviving son, was one of two residual legatees and was given “the sum of ten pounds now in his hands & for which I have his note and what arrears of Rent was due at Lady day last from John or Thomas Eyre & Samuel Furmason”. His wife Jane, Mary’s daughter-in-law, received “one brass-Pott one Iron dripping pan one large Pewter Gun”. Mary left her grandchildren “Laeticia, Elizabeth, Mary, Richard, Ann & Richard each of them one silver spoon” and in addition, Elizabeth – who was baptised at Baschurch on 31 Dec 1697 – was to receive money “to buy her Cloths if it can be spared when all other charges herein after mentioned shall be discharged”. Letitia was Roger Atcherley’s daughter, Elizabeth was a daughter of Mary’s son Joseph, of London, and Mary, Richard and Ann were children of Thomas of Salop. This leaves the second Richard unaccounted for.
Mary also remembered her only daughter, Mary Atcherley the younger, in her will. She gave “the furniture of the best Chamber all the linnen the furnace Brass pewter & all other of my household goods except those above mentioned to my son Thomas Atcherley of Salop in trust for the seperate use of my daughter Mary Acherley without any intermedlin of her husband and not to be subject to his debts & to be disposed of as she alone shall separatly direct notwithstanding her Coverture”. In addition Mary directed:
all my stock as oxen Cows horses mares sheep & young Cattle also all my implements of husbandry with all other my worldy substance as provisions corn in the house barn & in the ground or any thing else not herein mentioned to be all appraised & sold for the raising of the remaining part of my aforsaid daughter Marys portion and after my funerall expences are discharged if any overplus remain my will is it shall be divided into two equal parts one of which parts I give to my son Thomas Acherley of Salop to his own proper use & the other I give to him for the separate use of my aforesd daughter Mary without any intermedling of her husband & not to be subject to his debts & to be disposed of as she alone shall separatly direct notwithstanding her coveture
Lots of references there to daughter Mary’s husband, and to her coverture – a legal term referring to the legal rights (including property rights) and obligations of a married woman being lost to, or consolidated with those of, her husband. When I first read this will, and for a very long time afterwards, I thought that those references were designed to protect the younger Mary’s inheritance in the event of her marriage at some point in the future. This Mary was surely unmarried given that she still bore the Atcherley surname.
My initial attempts to find further records of Mary Atcherley the younger after the references to her in her mother’s will failed, leaving me to wonder: What happened to Mary?
Part III. In the year 2014, I asked genealogist Martin James (Family Heritage Search) to obtain and send to me copies of the Atcherley pedigrees and genealogical notes from the collection of the Rev John Newling (1762 – 1838), held at the William Salt Library in Stafford. From the information contained in the digital images I received, it was evident that Reverend Newling knew the Rev James Atcherley and that he was able to tap into James’s knowledge when compiling his Atcherley pedigrees.
One of Newling’s pedigrees shows that “Atcherley of Overley” married “Mary Atcherley sister to the Counsellor”. Overley was another name for Wolverley, birthplace of Thomas Atcherley of Wrexham, and “the Counsellor” could only have been Roger Atcherley, a lawyer of the Inner Temple, and brother of Mary Atcherley the younger of Stanwardine. Both of my questions – who was Mary, wife of Thomas Atcherley of Wrexham, and what happened to Mary Atcherley the younger of Stanwardine – were answered in one fell swoop.
Other puzzles are resolved too. Thomas Atcherley’s son Richard was born and baptised at Stanwardine because his wife went to stay with her own mother for the birth of her first child. And the second of the two grandchildren named Richard in the will of Mary Atcherley the elder in 1703 is no longer unaccounted for. Though a formal record of the marriage of Thomas and Mary Atcherley remains elusive, all the facts support the information from John Newling indicating that such a union took place. Two separate branches of the Atcherley family tree had indeed been reunited.
View towards Wrexham’s Town Hall: Image from
Wales Illustrated in a Series of Views, published 1810 and therefore public domain.
Wrexham St Giles: © Copyright Kenneth Allen, taken from Geograph and adapted, used and made available for re-use under a Creative Commons licence.
Merging tree trunks: By the author.
 Alfred Neobard Palmer (1893), History of the Town of Wrexham [a.k.a. A History of the Older Nonconformity of Wrexham].
 Alfred Neobard Palmer (1886), The History of the Parish Church of Wrexham, Being the Second Part of “A History of the Town and Parish of Wrexham.”
 Baschurch, Shropshire, parish register covering 1701; entry for baptism of Richard Atcherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast. Transcript viewed at Shropshire Archives. Indexed by FamilySearch, Batch C03390-1, Film 510651.
 Robert Forsyth Scott (ed.) (1903), Admissions to the College of St John the Evangelist in the University of Cambridge. Part III. Page 19. Copy viewed at Internet Archive.
 Wem, Shropshire, parish register covering 1672; entry for baptism of Thomas Acherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1908), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, Volume IX, Wem, page 202 viewed at Mocavo, the Internet Archive and the melockie website. Indexed by FamilySearch, Batch P00899-1, Film 908233.
 Wem, Shropshire, parish register covering 1672; entry for burial of Richard Acherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1908), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, Volume IX, Wem, page 306 viewed at Mocavo, the Internet Archive and the melockie website.
 Will of Richard Atcherley of Overley, Wem, Gent. Proved 26 Sep 1672. Copy from Lichfield Record Office, reference B/C/11. Indexed at Staffordshire Name Indexes.
 Baschurch, Shropshire, parish register covering 1703; entry for baptism of Martha Atcherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast. Transcript viewed at Shropshire Archives. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch C03390-1, Film 510651.
 Wrexham, Denbighshire, parish register covering 1712; entry for burial of Martha Atcherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast. Transcript viewed in Alfred Neobard Palmer (1893), History of the Town of Wrexham.
 Baschurch, Shropshire, parish register covering 1706; entry for baptism of Mary Atcherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast. Transcript viewed at Shropshire Archives. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch C03390-1, Film 510651.
 Dudleston, Shropshire, parish register covering 1737; entry for marriage of Roger Kynaston and Mary Atcherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast. Transcript viewed at Rootsweb archive of ENG-SHROPSHIRE-PLUS list, message Re: [ENG-SHROP] ENG-SHROPSHIRE – NEW LISTER from Graham Price dated 21 Apr 2003.
 Ellesmere, Shropshire, parish register covering 1740; entry for baptism of Ann Kynaston. Copy viewed at Findmypast. Indexed by FamilySearch, Batch C03742-5. Film 429018.
 Ellesmere, Shropshire, parish register covering 1743; entry for baptism of Allice Kynaston. Copy viewed at Findmypast. Indexed by FamilySearch, Batch C03742-3, Film 510663.
 Ellesmere, Shropshire, parish register covering 1758; entry for burial of Mary Kynaston. Copy viewed at Findmypast.
 Wrexham, Denbighshire, parish register covering 1712; entry for baptism of Roger Atcherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast. Transcript viewed in Alfred Neobard Palmer (1893), History of the Town of Wrexham.
 Wrexham, Denbighshire, parish register covering 1715; entry for baptism of Elizabeth Atcherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast. Transcript viewed in Alfred Neobard Palmer (1893), History of the Town of Wrexham.
 Wrexham, Denbighshire, parish register covering 1714; entry for burial of Shusan Acherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast. Transcript viewed in Alfred Neobard Palmer (1893), History of the Town of Wrexham.
 The National Archives (UK), item E 134/1Geo2/Mich22 (Exchequer: King’s Remembrancer: Depositions taken by Commission) dated 1 Geo 2 shows:
Thomas Acherley and his wife Mary, Richard Acherley. v. Anne Acherley, widow …
 Baschurch, Shropshire, parish register covering 1703; entry for burial of Mary Atcherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast. Transcript viewed at Shropshire Archives.
 Will of Mary Acherley of Stanwardine in the Fields, widow. Transcript provided by Barbara Lang. Indexed at Staffordshire Name Indexes.
 Baschurch, Shropshire, parish register covering 1697; entry for baptism of Elizabeth Atcherley, daughter of Mr Joseph Atcherley of London. Copies viewed at Shropshire Archives and Findmypast. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch C03390-1, Film 510651.
 Coverture. At Wikipedia (website, accessed 28 Sep 2014).
 The Gentleman’s Magazine, Sep 1838, page 335. Rev. Canon Newling, B.D. Copy viewed at Google Books.
 Staffordshire Record Office item S. MS.256/8/5, undated, Pedigrees and genealogical notes from the collection of the Revd. John Newling for various families including Atcherley. Indexed at Gateway to the Past.
 Staffordshire Record Office item S. MS.269/1/14, undated, Pedigrees of families in Shropshire (etc) from the collection of the Revd. John Newling: Atcherley, co. Salop. Indexed at Gateway to the Past.