Peter, his parents, and his progeny – the Atcherleys who Petered out

Peter Atcherley was the fourth and youngest son, and the sixth and youngest child, of Thomas Atcherley and Sarah (née Williams) of Twyford in the Shropshire parish of West Felton. Baptised at West Felton on 8 September 1699 he went on to marry and have children of his own, just like his older brothers and sisters. However, while I have traced several generations of his siblings’ descendants (right up to the present day in some cases), Peter’s heirs went only as far as a single, short-lived granddaughter. Let’s take a closer look at the lives of Peter, his immediate ancestors, and his descendants.

Peter’s parents played a pivotal part in perpetuating the line of Atcherleys which began with the illegitimate son of Thomas of Marton and “the daughter of Old Edge”. The story of the Atcherley heir born ‘on the wrong side of the sheets’ is told in Edge of the tree no longer: Thomas Atcherley, alias Edge. The tale of that Thomas continued with the children he had with his wife Mary, née Groome: five daughters (only one of whom appears to have married), a son named Richard (who married twice and begat a daughter named Mary, who married Richard Noneley), and Thomas, third of his name and, as we have seen, father of six.

Records relating to this Thomas Atcherley begin with his father’s will in 1679, and continue with his marriage to Sarah Williams (on 3 January 1683/4 at Baschurch; both parties were of West Felton) and the baptisms of their children (from Mary on 30 January 1684/5 to Peter in 1699, all at West Felton and with all entries in the parish register showing that family were of Twyford). Later there came the marriage settlement of his son John (see The rebirth of the Atcherleys of Stanwardine), and finally Thomas’s burial (on 9 April 1722 at West Felton) and his will (written on 5 April and proved on 29 November 1722).

1897 Ordnance Survey map showing West Felton, Twyford and Woolston.

Who was Sarah Williams, wife of Thomas and mother of Peter (and of Peter’s more prolific siblings)? I have found a small number of Shropshire baptisms which might relate to Sarah, but I have rejected all of them. I suspect that Sarah’s baptism, like her husband’s, was not recorded (or that the record of it has not survived) – primarily because there are no baptisms in the West Felton parish register between 9 October 1653 and 16 July 1682! I do have a theory regarding Sarah’s ancestry however, and it is based on probate rather than parish records. Two wills made by residents of West Felton parish gave me the lead I was looking for.

“Thomas Williams of Twyford in the parish of West ffelton and Countie of Salop” a yeoman, in his will written on 13 June 1654 and proved on 11 July 1654, mentioned (amongst others) his wife Elizabeth, their son John, and John’s children Elizabeth, John, Mary and Martha. Thomas’s widow Elizabeth Williams made her will 13 years later on 13 July 1667. Proved on 13 July 1670, this will mentioned Elizabeth’s son John, and his children Elizabeth, Mary, Martha – and Sarah. I believe that it was this Sarah Williams, probably born to John Williams and his wife in the late 1650s after Thomas Williams’ death, who married fellow Twyfordian Thomas Atcherley.

Sarah might also have been related to Peter Williams, a grocer of Oswestry with real estate in Woolston (according to his will), who was buried at West Felton on 14 November 1745. I have yet to find any clear evidence of such a link, but if these two were kin it might explain why Sarah’s youngest son was (as far as I know) the first on his side of the Atcherley family tree to be given the name Peter.

Back to Thomas Atcherley – and his will of 1722. Thomas, a Gentleman of Twyford, Shropshire, was at the time “sick and weak in body but of perfect mind and memory thanks be given unto God”. He gave, devised and disposed of his “Worldly estate” as follows (text broken into paragraphs for ease of reading):

I give and bequeath to Sarah my dear beloved Wife my two ffreeholds in Twiford and Sutton for her naturall life and also I give devise and bequeath all my household goods unto my said Wife except the best bed in the parlour Chamber and the great Chest in the parlour Chamber and the Table and Cubboard in the parlour and the Skreen in the Hall which I give and bequeath to my son Thomas Atcherley and I also give and bequeath to my said Wife Sarah the Sum of twenty pounds to be paid by my said son Thomas Atcherley within two years time after my decease to be raised out of the Sheabry lease And also two Cows I give and bequeath to my said Wife and half a dozen Sheep I bequeath to my said Wife

Item I give and bequeath to my beloved Son Richard Atcherley the Sum of two hundred pounds to be paid by my said son Thomas Atcherley within a twelve months time after my decease Item I also give to my Son Peter Atcherley the like Sum of two hundred pounds to be paid within a twelve months time after my decease by my said son Thomas Atcherley Item I give to my son John Atcherley the Sum of five shillings and I also give and bequeath to my Daughter Mary the Wife of Thomas Evans the Sum of ffive Shillings and also to my daughter Elizabeth the Wife of Peter Barnett [= Basnett] the like Sum of five shillings to be paid by my son Thomas Atcherley within a twelve month after my decease

All the rest and residue of my estate whatsoever I give and devise and bequeath to my said Son Thomas Atcherley and I likewise constitute make and ordain my said Wife Sarah and my said Son Thomas to be Executors of this my last Will and Testament and all and singular my Lands Messuages and Tenements by him my said Son freely to be possessed and enjoyed

Thomas Atcherley junior, his father’s eldest son and heir, naturally received the lion’s share of Thomas Atcherley senior’s bequests. The nominal sums of five shillings apiece paid to John, the second son, and to Mary and Elizabeth, reflected the fact that these three had all married; John had received a generous contribution to his marriage settlement while Mary and Elizabeth had most likely received dowries. Richard, aged 26, and Peter, 22, the youngest sons, were still bachelors and so received more generous legacies.

Peter’s single status ended on 6 November 1726 when he wed Elizabeth Humphreys at Shrewsbury St Alkmond (the spire of which is pictured right). The marriage register recorded that they were “both of ye pish [= parish] of West ffelton”, and the marriage bond drawn up just before the nuptials described Peter as “Agricolum”, a farmer. Peter’s age was given as about 26 (he was at least 27 based on the date of his baptism) and Elizabeth’s as about 20 (indicating that she was born around 1706). Both were clearly of some standing in West Felton parish as they were witnesses to the will of the Rector, Daniel Griffiths, which was drawn up on 28 Jul 1726 (a little over three months before the couple’s marriage).

My next question is of course: who was Elizabeth Humphreys, wife of Peter Atcherley? This time, I have no theories, let alone an answer – at least for now. Elizabeth may have had connections with nearby Oswestry, where there are a couple of possible baptisms for her in 1704 and 1705. I say that in part because the first two children of Elizabeth and Peter, a girl and a boy named after their parents, were baptised there in that town, at St Oswald’s, in 1727 and 1731 respectively. However, it is possible those ceremonies took place in Oswestry because Peter’s widowed mother Sarah was living there.

I don’t know exactly when Sarah Atcherley moved to Oswestry, but she was certainly there by April 1728: “Sarah Acherley of the town of Oswestrey County of Salop and Diocese of St Asaph Widow” made her last will and testament on the 27th of that month. After noting that she was “often indisposed in bodily health”, Sarah went on to say that she made were will “for prevention of any Quarrels Controversies or Disputes to arise or happen betwixt my Children or any of my Relation as touching such worldly Estate as it hath pleased God to bless me withall”. Sarah made the following bequests:

Item I leave and bequeath to my Son Thomas Acherley of Twyford in the Parish of West ffelton the Summ and Legacy of Two shillings and Six pence Item I leave and bequeath two shillings and six pence to my son John Acherley Item I leave and bequeath to my Daughter Mary Evans the like summ of two shillings and Six pence Item I leave and bequeath to my daughter Elizabeth Basnett the summ of two shillings and six pence Item I give leave order and Appoint that if shall happen to die in the Countrey that there shall be distributed to the poor of the said Parish where I die in the Countrey [unspecified] pence apiece at my funeral Item I give leave and bequeath after my Just Debts and funeral Expenses are paid all my Money which shall be and remain in my Custody or in the Custody of any other persons whatsoever for me or my [life?] to my two sons Richard and Peter Acherley to be equally divided betwixt them Item I give leave dispose and bequeath to my Son Peter all my Household Goods and Utensils of Household whatsoever which I shall die possessed of

Her four eldest offspring having all been well provided for by their late father, Sarah favoured her two youngest sons in her will. Richard and Peter were named as executors too, but they did not have to prove their mother’s will until 1733 (on 8 November to be precise). “Sarah Acherly of Oswestry” was buried at West Felton on 15 October that year.

Sarah Atcherley had lived long enough to see her youngest son Peter and his wife Elizabeth present her with three grandchildren. The first two, Elizabeth and Peter (baptised 24 August 1727 and 6 May 1731 at Oswestry), I have already mentioned. Sadly, both died in infancy and were buried at West Felton; “Elizab. ye Daughter of Peter Acherly” on 22 October 1727 and “Peter ye Son of Peter Acherly of Woolston” on 13 May 1731. Having named their first two children after themselves, Peter and Elizabeth bestowed the name of Peter’s father Thomas upon their third child: “Thomas Son of Peter Acherly of Wolston” was baptised at West Felton on 15 July 1733. He survived his grandmother, but only by about a year, being laid to rest at West Felton on 9 Oct 1734.

Three more children followed: Sarah, Richard, and a second Elizabeth. All were baptised at West Felton (on 21 September 1736, 5 February 1738/9 and 15 August 1740 respectively), and two of the trio – much to the joy of their parents I’m sure – survived into adulthood. The exception, Richard, was sadly buried on the same day that he was baptised.

At some point (following in the footsteps of Peter’s late mother, or because of Elizabeth’s own familial connections with the town?) this Atcherley family relocated to Oswestry. Peter was buried there on 8 December 1767, aged 68, and his widow “Elizabeth Atcherley – Leg Street” on 16 May 1778 at the age of 72 or thereabouts. The couple’s eldest surviving daughter Sarah, also of ‘Legg Street’ was interred some seven years later on 28 September 1785. But what of Peter and Elizabeth’s youngest daughter, Elizabeth?

“Mary a bas: Daug: of John Tisdel by ye body of Eliz: Atcherley” was baptised at Oswestry on 23 July 1764. I cannot be certain which John Tisdel fathered Mary, but a strong contender must be the John Tisdel of Cross Street who was buried at Oswestry on 3 April 1773, aged 29 according to a transcription of his monumental inscription. He may have been the “Tisdale John s. of John & Mary born July 23d” baptised at Shrewsbury St Chad on 11 August 1745.

“Mary Acherley A Child from Oswestry”, whose abode prior to her death had been in the township of Priddbwll, was buried at Llansillin, Denbighshire, on 14 Aug 1765. Llansillin is not far from Oswestry, lying about 6 miles to the west, with Priddbwll township less than 2 miles further on, but why Mary’s tragically short life ended there is a puzzle. Had Elizabeth taken her daughter there – either of her own volition or as a result of pressure from her parents or others – because of the shame of being known in Oswestry as the mother of a bastard child? We will never know, but what shame there may have been was, in the end, shortlived, and very likely eclipsed by the loss of her baby girl: the only child Elizabeth Atcherley would ever bear.

Twenty years later, on 9 November 1785 – a little over a month after the burial of her sister Sarah – Elizabeth Atcherley, a spinster, and James Lowther, a bachelor, were married at Oswestry (the church as it appeared in the late 1700s being pictured above). Both were of the parish. I know next to nothing about James unfortunately. He was most likely “James ye Son of Nathaniel Louther Corviser by Dorothy his wife”, baptised at Oswestry on 14 January 1745/6, and he may have pursued his father’s trade as a boot and shoe maker. It appears that he and Elizabeth lived out the rest of their lives in Oswestry, uneventfully and in obscurity.

Elizabeth and James died within a couple of years of each other. James Lowther, of Beatrice Street, 71 years old according to the burial register, was buried at Oswestry on 12 December 1817. He had survived his wife by less than two years. Elizabeth Lowther, née Atcherley, also of Beatrice Street, her age recorded as 76, had been interred in the same churchyard on 23 April 1816 – the last leaf on the twig on the Atcherley family tree created by her father Peter.


Picture credits. Map showing West Felton, Twyford and Woolston: Extract from Ordnance Survey one-inch map Sheet 137 published 1897, Crown Copyright expired; reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland under a Creative Commons licence (view sheet on NLS website). Shrewsbury St Alkmund: Cropped from a photo by San Sharma, taken from Wikimedia Commons and used, and made available for reuse, under a Creative Commons licence. Will of Sarah Acherley: Embedded with code provided for the purpose by the National Library of Wales website. Oswestry church, late 1700s: Illustration from A tour in Wales by Thomas Pennant, produced 1781; public domain image from National Library of Wales via Wikimedia Commons.


References

[1] West Felton, Shropshire, parish register covering 1699. Entry dated 8 Sep 1699 for baptism of “Peter ye son of Tho. Atcherly & Sarah his wife of Twyford yeoman”. Original viewed at Shropshire Archives. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms.
[2] Will of Thomas Atcherley 1679.
[3] Baschurch, Shropshire, parish register covering 1683/4. Entry dated 3 Jan 1683/4 for marriage of “Thomas Atcherley & Sarah Williams of ye Parish of Welsh Felton”. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Marriages. Note: No marriage bond found at Findmypast – Staffordshire, Dioceses Of Lichfield & Coventry Marriage Allegations And Bonds, 1636-1893.
[4] West Felton, Shropshire, parish register covering period including 1684 to 1696. Entries for baptisms of “Mary daugh. of Tho. Atcherly & Sarah of Twiford” dated 30 Jan 1684/5, “Elizabeth the daughter of Tho: Atcherley & Sarah his wife of Twyford” dated 19 Jun 1687, “Thomas, the son of Tho: Atcherley & Sarah his Wife of Twyford” dated 6 Mar 1689/90, “John ye son of Thomas Atcherley of Twyford” dated 6 Apr 1693, and “Richard ye son of Thomas Acherly & Sarah his wife of Twyford” dated 26 Mar 1696. Original viewed at Shropshire Archives. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms.
[5] Shropshire Archives item D3651/B/4/2/166 dated 24 Mar 1720 (Salt Collection): Attested copy of articles made previous to the marriage of John Acherly of Stanwardine and Mary Basnett. Original viewed at Shropshire Archives. Indexed at Discovering Shropshire’s History.
[6] West Felton, Shropshire, parish register covering 1722. Entry dated 9 Apr 1722 for burial of “Thomas Acherley of Twyford, yeoman – mortuary pd.” Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Burials.
[7] The National Archives, Kew. Item ref PROB 11/588/231: Will of Thomas Atcherley, Gentleman of Twyford, Shropshire. Copy viewed at Ancestry – England & Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1384-1858. Also available from The National Archives website. Abstract at West Felton PCC Will Abstracts on the Forebears website (accessed 7 Aug 2019).
[8] West Felton, Shropshire, parish register covering period including 1653 to 1682. Note in pencil after baptism dated 9 Oct 1653, added by J Henry Hunt in 1860, reads: “1653 to 1682 omitted a period of 29 years.”
[9] The National Archives, Kew. Item ref PROB 11/248/607: Will of Thomas Williams, Yeoman of West Felton, Shropshire. Copy viewed at Ancestry – England & Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1384-1858. Also available from The National Archives website. Abstract at West Felton PCC Will Abstracts on the Forebears website (accessed 7 Aug 2019).
[10] The National Archives, Kew. Item ref PROB 11/333/327: Will of Elizabeth Williams, Widow of West Felton, Shropshire. Copy viewed at Ancestry – England & Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1384-1858. Also available from The National Archives website. Abstract at West Felton PCC Will Abstracts on the Forebears website (accessed 7 Aug 2019).
[11] National Library of Wales. Peter Williams: will, 1746. Copy viewed at National Library of Wales website.
[12] West Felton, Shropshire, parish register covering 1745. Entry dated 14 Nov 1745 for burial of “Mr Peter Williams Grocer of Oswestry”. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Burials.
[13] Alberbury, Shropshire, parish register covering 1726. Entry dated 23 Jun 1726 for the marriage of “Thomas Atcherley of ye parish of Welsh ffelton and Elizabeth Gittins of this parish”. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Marriages. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1902), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Hereford, Volumes VI and VII, page 370; copy viewed at Mel Lockie’s website. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch M01582-1, Film 162092, 162093.
[14] West Felton, Shropshire, parish register covering 1708. Entry dated 25 Jun 1708 for the marriage of “Thomas Evans of Baschurch parish and Mary Atcherly of this parish West ffelton”. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Marriages.
[15] Baschurch, Shropshire, parish register covering 1709. Entry dated 25 Nov 1709 for the marriage of “Peter Basnet of Wykey & Elizabeth Atcherley of Twiford”. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Marriages (not indexed, but found manually by searching for Baschurch marriages in 1709 and viewing register from those results).
[16] Diocese of Lichfield and Coventry Marriage Bond for Peter Atcherley and Elizabeth Humphreys, dated [4 ?] Nov 1726. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Staffordshire, Dioceses [sic] Of Lichfield & Coventry Marriage Allegations And Bonds, 1636-1893 (Peter’s surname transcribed as Makerley – correction submitted).
[17] The National Archives, Kew. Item ref PROB 11/623/22: Will of Daniel Griffiths, Dr. in Divinity and Rector of West Felton, Shropshire. Copy viewed at Ancestry – England & Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1384-1858. Also available from The National Archives website. Abstract at West Felton PCC Will Abstracts on the Forebears website (accessed 7 Aug 2019).
[18] Oswestry, Shropshire, parish register covering period including 1703 to 1706. Entries for baptisms of “Elizabeth daug. of David Humphreys of Hisland husb & of Jane his wife born ye 16th [of March 1703/4] & bapt ye 31st [of March 1704]”, “Elizabeth daug: of Rich: Humphrey of Trevyrclawdd lab & of Sinah his wife born 7-ber [September] 30th bapt 14th instant [October 1705]”, and “Elizabeth daug: of Richard Humphreys of Aston husb by Elizabeth his wife born ye 13th & bapt ye 21st [April 1706]”. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms.
[19] National Library of Wales. Sarah Acherley: will, 1733. Copy viewed at National Library of Wales website.
[20] Oswestry, Shropshire, parish register covering 1727. Entry for baptism of “Elizabeth daughter of Peter Atcherly by Elizabeth his wife” dated 24 Aug 1727. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1914), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of St. Asaph, Volume VI, Oswestry, volume III, page 3. Copies viewed at Internet Archive and Mel Lockie’s website. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch P02071-3, Film 908231.
[21] Oswestry, Shropshire, parish register covering 1731. Entry for baptism of “Peter Son of Peter Atcherley by Elizabeth his Wife” dated 6 May 1731. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1914), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of St. Asaph, Volume VI, Oswestry, volume III, page 3. Copies viewed at Internet Archive and Mel Lockie’s website. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch P02071-3, Film 908231.
[22] West Felton, Shropshire, parish register covering 1733. Entry for burial of Sarah Acherly dated 15 Oct 1733. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Burials.
[23] West Felton, Shropshire, parish register covering 1727. Entry for burial of Elizab Acherly 22 Oct 1727. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Burials.
[24] West Felton, Shropshire, parish register covering 1731. Entry for burial of Peter Acherly dated 13 May 1731. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Burials.
[25] West Felton, Shropshire, parish register covering 1733. Entry for baptism of “Thomas Son of Peter Acherly of Wolston” dated 5 Jul 1733. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms.
[26] West Felton, Shropshire, parish register covering 1734. Entry for burial of Thomas Acherly dated 9 Oct 1734. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Burials.
[27] West Felton, Shropshire, parish register covering 1736. Entry for baptism of “Sarah daughter of Peter Acherly of Wolston” dated 21 Sep 1736. Original viewed at Shropshire Archives. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms.
[28] West Felton, Shropshire, parish register covering 1738/9. Entry for baptism of “Richd ye son of Peter Acherly of Wolston” dated 5 Feb 1738/9. Original viewed at Shropshire Archives. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms.
[29] West Felton, Shropshire, parish register covering 1740. Entry for baptism of “Elizab. ye daughter of Peter Acherly of Wolston” dated 15 Aug 1740. Original viewed at Shropshire Archives. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms.
[30] West Felton, Shropshire, parish register covering 1738/9. Entry for burial of “Richd ye Son of Peter Acherly of Wolston” dated 5 Feb 1738/9. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Burials.
[31] Oswestry, Shropshire, parish register covering 1767. Entry for burial of Peter Atcherley dated 8 Dec 1767. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Burials. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1914), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of St. Asaph, Volume VII, Oswestry, volume IV, page 74; copy viewed at Mel Lockie’s website.
[32] Oswestry, Shropshire, parish register covering 1778. Entry for burial of Elizabeth Atcherley dated 16 May 1778. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Burials. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1914), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of St. Asaph, Volume VII, Oswestry, volume IV, page 102; copy viewed at Mel Lockie’s website. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch I03455-8, Film 1701315 (as Elizabeth Atehorley).
[33] Oswestry, Shropshire, parish register covering 1785. Entry for burial of Sarah Atcherley dated 28 Sep 1785. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Burials. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1914), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of St. Asaph, Volume VII, Oswestry, volume IV, page 122; copy viewed at Mel Lockie’s website. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch I03455-8, Film 1701315 (as Sarah Alcherley).
[34] Oswestry, Shropshire, parish register covering 1764. Entry for baptism of Mary Atcherley / Tisdel dated 23 Jul 1764. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms.
[35] Oswestry, Shropshire, parish register covering 1773. Entry for burial of John Tisdel dated 3 Apr 1773. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Burials.
[36] Askew Roberts (1883), Oswestry Old Church Monuments. In: Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Natural History Society, Vol VI, page 172. Copy viewed at Internet Archive.
[37] Shrewsbury St Chad, Shropshire, parish register covering 1745. Entry for baptism of John Tisdale dated 11 Aug 1745. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms.
[38] Llansillin, Denbighshire, parish register covering 1765. Entry for Burial of Mary Acherley 14 Aug 1765. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Denbighshire Burials. Abstract at Clwyd Surnames website (accessed 13 Aug 2019).
[39] Oswestry, Shropshire, marriage register covering 1785. Entry for James Lowther and Elizabeth Atcherley dated 9 Nov 1785. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Marriages.
[40] Oswestry, Shropshire, burial register covering 1817. Entry for James Lowther dated 12 Dec 1817. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Burials.
[41] Oswestry, Shropshire, burial register covering 1816. Entry for Elizabeth Lowther dated 23 Apr 1816. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Burials.

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