Roger Atcherley and his one shilling legacies

 In the Name of God Amen I Roger Atcherly of Frankwell within the Liberties of Shrewsbury Tanner (in health of body and of sound mind and understanding and thoughfull [= thoughtfull] of mortality) do make this my Will in writing in manner and form following (that is to say) I principally commend my Soul to Almighty God my Creator in hopes of Eternal Life through the mediation of my Redeemer Jesus Christ And my Body I commit to the Earth to be buryed by my Executrixes in a Christian manner […] 

Map showing St Chad and Frankwell, Shrewsbury (underlined red), 1700s

The will signed by Roger Atcherley (or Atcherly, as he wrote his surname) on 17 September 1755 began in a manner which was typical for that period: dealing first with the soul and then with the body of the testator, according to his Christian faith. As we shall soon see however, some of the bequests which followed seem at first sight to lack a certain Christian charity.

Roger Atcherley of Frankwell was a son of John Atcherley and Elizabeth, née Elsmere (who feature in my article Revising the roots of the family tree). He was born at Newton, a township situated outside of Shrewsbury but within the town’s parish of St Mary, and baptised at St Mary’s church on 26 August 1690. I have found no further records relating to Roger until the will of his mother Elizabeth made on 22 April 1721, in which he was left the sum of £10. Ten years later in 1731, as the “Dearly Beloved Brother” of Samuel Atcherley, Roger was appointed sole executor of Samuel’s will (see Samuel Atcherley’s true and perfect inventory).

In between the two aforementioned wills, Roger Atcherley was married. An entry made in May 1724 in the parish register of Condover, Shropshire, reads: “Roger Actherly & Ann Thomas Ware Married ye 10th”. With his combination of extreme brevity and the incorrect spelling of Roger’s surname, the incumbent of Condover in 1724 certainly wins no posthumous prize from me for his services to genealogy!

Anne, according to the late Martin Freeth (who was a superb Shropshire genealogist and a great wit too), was the daughter of Richard Thomas of Chatford, in Condover parish. Neither Martin nor I have been able to find a record of her baptism, but her father was a party to her marriage settlement. That settlement seems to have been made some time after the nuptials, as documents at Shropshire Archives relating to the “conveyance of premises in Frankwell, Shrewsbury and marriage settlement of Roger Atcherley and his wife Anne” were dated 8-9 October 1725.

It appears that Roger Atcherley, with a Mr William Bowdler, also had an interest in “a messuage, with tanhouse and appurtenances” in “Under the Wylde” (the Wyle Cop) in Shrewsbury. Tanning had been the source of another Atcherley’s wealth in the early part of the 1600s, and was probably quite a lucrative trade for Roger too. (For more on tanning, and on Thomas Atcherley of Marton – a distant cousin of Roger’s from the other branch of the Atcherley family tree – see Thomas Atcherley and his Marton tannery.)

Whatever the extent of Roger’s financial fortune, the marriage settlement he had already entered into provided for his wife in the event that she survived him. So Roger was not overgenerous towards Anne when his will was written. The provision he made for her was as follows:

And Whereas I have already made a Settlement of my ffreehold Tenement in ffrankwell upon my loving wife Anne Atcherly for life with Remainder after her decease to my eldest son John Atcherly And for as much as my wife is settled in my estate as aforesaid I do give and bequeath to her the furniture of one room in my dwelling house which is commonly known to be the room over the Parlour which will be in it at my decease

Frankwell was most likely where most of Roger and Anne Atcherley’s children were born and raised. I cannot confirm this from the records of their baptisms, unfortunately, because of the minimalist approach of the scribes who entered those records into the parish registers. The clerk of St Julian’s in Shrewsbury did at least name both parents and note the occupation of the father when he wrote that “John ye son of Roger & Anne Atcherly Tanner was Baptized” (on 10 March 1724/5) into his church’s register.

John Atcherley was Roger and Anne’s firstborn, and as he was baptised at St Julian he may well have been born in that parish rather than in Frankwell. As we have seen, he was set to receive Roger’s freehold property after Anne’s decease. I have written about John in John Atcherley and American Independence; here I will repeat only the few words devoted to him in his father Roger’s will:

And as to my Eldest Son John Atcherly for as much as he is to enjoy my Estate after my Wifes decease and what money and other things I have given him allready I do give and bequeath to him no more than one Shilling if he please to accept it

Roger was not yet done with one shilling legacies. His third child and second daughter Mary, baptised at St Chad (pictured above) on 14 October 1728, had married Joseph Gittoes on 22 December 1750 and went to live with him and raise a family at Condover, her mother’s native parish. Roger’s will shows that Mary had had her share of her father’s financial assistance, and very little more was forthcoming:

And as to my daughter Mary now my daughter Gittoes for as much as she hath had her portion allready as much as I do choose to give her and therefore I do bequeath to her only one Shilling if she will be please to accept it

I wonder if John or Mary actually collected the one shilling apiece which their father bequeathed them? And what of their brother, James? Roger got a little carried away when it came to James, his second son (baptised 18 November 1730 at St Chad). I have written about James in The Rev James Atcherley, Head Master of Shrewsbury, so (as with James’s older brother John) I will cut straight to the chase:

And as to my Son James Atcherly for as much it hath cost me as much money in Education in bringing him up to the ministry therefore I do give and bequeath to him five pounds to be paid to him one whole year after my decease

Roger and Anne Atcherley had six other children who, when Roger’s will was written, had not already been provided for in some way. (Remarkably, all of the children born to Roger and Anne survived into adulthood.) All were baptised at St Chad: Sarah on 27 November 1726, Anne on 3 January 1732/2, Elizabeth on 7 April 1735, Martha on 12 September 1737, Hannah on 27 June 1739, and Roger junior on 9 June 1743. When we read the next part of Roger’s will, devoted to these six siblings, we can see why he seemed slightly stingy with regard to his loving wife and three of his older children:

And I do give and bequeath all my household goods stock in Trade Chattels ready money I do give and bequeath in manner and form following (my just debts to be payd first) that is to say to my Eldest daughter Sarah Atcherly my daughter Anne Atcherly my daughter Elizabeth Atcherly my daughter Martha Atcherly My daughter Hannah Atcherly and to my youngest son Roger Atcherly all such personal Estate that I am possessed with I do give and bequeath as above to be Sold and […] to be Equally divided amongst them Share and Share alike and in case any of my Children shall die in their minority then my Will is that the provision intended for him or her or them so dying shall be subject for the equal benefit of the survivors […]

Roger appointed his two eldest unmarried daughters, Sarah and Anne, as joint executrixes of his will, before mentioning his unmarried sister in a further clause of potential benefit to younger offspring:

And furthermore if my loving Sister Mary Atcherly Spinster shall leave me anything in her Will I do further Will it to my daughters Sarah Anne Elisabeth Martha Hannah and my youngest Son Roger as is before expressed in this Will

Sarah and Anne’s duties as executrixes of their father’s will followed within just a few months of that document being witnessed, signed and sealed. Although Roger had declared in the introduction to his will that he was “in health of body”, perhaps he was ‘thoughtful of mortality’ because he knew his health would not last for long. Whether or not that was the case, he did not live to see out the remainder of the year 1755. A rather laconic entry in the parish register of St Chad confirmed the burial at that church of “Atcherley Mr. Roger” on 16 December. A later publication, containing a record of the gravestones in what became known as St Chad’s old church yard, included this entry: “Roger Atcherley, late of Frankwell, tanner, 1755; 66”.

113 and 114 Frankwell, Shrewsbury (built early 1600s)

Roger’s house in Frankwell was duly settled on his widow, Anne Atcherley, who made full use of the property by living for almost 30 years after Roger’s death. She was buried on 13 March 1783, but in which churchyard I am not certain. The register of Shrewsbury Holy Cross records the burial of “Mrs Ann Atcherly, Widow”, while an almost identical entry (“Mrs Anne Atcherley Widdow”) was made for the same date in the register of Holy Cross in Shrewsbury!

Roger and Anne’s youngest child, their third son Roger Atcherley junior, was apprenticed by Anne to a glover and later set up in business in Whitchurch (see Glover, mercer, drapers – Roger and Elizabeth Atcherley). Of the five unmarried daughters named by Roger Atcherley in his will, one followed their sister Mary’s example and entered into holy matrimony: Anne Atcherley the younger wed George Matthews at St Chad on 21 February 1757.

The remaining sisters, Sarah, Elizabeth, Martha and Hannah, never married and it appears that they lived out their days in Frankwell. Certainly, they were all buried at St Chad (Sarah on 25 August 1786, aged about 59; Martha on 3 March 1797, also aged about 59; Hannah on 16 March 1807, aged 68; and finally Elizabeth on 27 December 1817, at the grand old age of 81). Notices of the deaths of two of the sisters appeared in The Monthly Magazine and the Gentleman’s Magazine respectively: “Miss M. Atcherley, of Frankwell” (Martha) in 1797, and in 1817: “At Shrewsbury, aged 81, Elizabeth, last surviving sister of Rev. James Atcherley, late head-master of the free grammar school in that town.”

Some of the bequests in Roger Atcherley’s will were only a shilling. But the real legacy of this plain-speaking businessman man was that he made sure all of those who he left behind were able to prosper after he had gone.


Picture credits: Map showing St Chad and Frankwell, Shrewsbury, 1700s: Adapted from a map drawn by Thomas Pennant and published in A tour in Wales, 1781; taken from a public domain image at Wikimedia Commons; original Source National Library of Wales. St Chad’s church 1778: Adapted from a plate in The History and Antiquities of Shrewsbury, published in 1837 and therefore in the public domain; sourced from Google Books. 113 and 114 Frankwell, Shrewsbury (built early 1600s): Original photo by Elliott Brown, taken from their Flickr photostream, adapted and used under a Creative Commons licence.


References

[1] Will of Roger Atcherly of Frankwell, tanner. Proved 22 Oct 1756. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Staffordshire, Dioceses [sic] of Lichfield and Coventry wills and probate 1521-1860.
[2] St Mary, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register covering 1690. Entry dated 26 Aug for baptism of “Roger Sonne of John Atcherley of Newton”. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1911), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, Volume XII, page 194; copies viewed at Internet Archive and Mel Lockie’s website. Indexed at FamilySearch [https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/JMPB-5S9], Batch P00681-1, Film 908234.
[3] Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru – The National Library of Wales, SA/1728/74 W, Elizabeth Acherley: will, 1728. Copy viewed at National Library of Wales website.
[4] Condover, Shropshire, parish register covering 1724. Entry dated 10 May for the marriage of Roger Actherley and Ann Thomas. Copies viewed at Shropshire Archives and at Findmypast – Shropshire Marriages. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch M00883-1, Film 485952.
[5] Martyn Freeth (2010), The Family of Atcherley of Stanwardine and Marton. Unpublished.
[6] Shropshire Archives item D3651/B/69/2/1 dated 8-9 Oct 1725 (Salt Collection). Indexed at Discovering Shropshire’s History.
[7] Shropshire Archives item 2922/11/3/3 dated 14 Mar 1755 (reciting lease and release made 5 and 6 June 1722). Indexed at Discovering Shropshire’s History.
[8] Shrewsbury St Julian, Shropshire, parish register covering 1724/5. Entry dated 10 Mar for baptism of John Atcherly. Copies viewed at Shropshire Archives and at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms.
[9] Shrewsbury St Chad, Shropshire, parish register covering 1728. Entry dated 14 Oct for baptism of “Mary D of Roger Atcherly”. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1916), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, Volume XVI, St. Chad’s, Shrewsbury, Volume II, page 946; copies viewed at Internet Archive and Mel Lockie’s website. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch P01575-2, Film 908236.
[10] Shrewsbury St Chad, Shropshire, parish register covering 1750. Entry dated 22 Dec for marriage of “Gittoes Joseph & Mary Atcherley ML” [ML = Married by Licence]. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Marriages.
[11] St Chad, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register covering 1730. Entry dated 18 Nov for baptism of “James S. of Rog Atcherley”. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1916), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, Volume XVI, St. Chad’s, Shrewsbury, Volume II, page 960; copies viewed at Internet Archive and Mel Lockie’s website. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch P01575-2, Film 908236.
[12] St Chad, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register covering 1726. Entry dated 27 Nov for baptism of “Sarah D. of Roger Atcherley”.Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1916), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, Volume XVI, St. Chad’s, Shrewsbury, Volume II, page 933; copies viewed at Internet Archive and Mel Lockie’s website. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch P01575-2, Film 908236.
[13] St Chad, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register covering 1732. Entry dated 3 Jan 1732/3 for baptism of “Anne d. of Roger Atcherley”.Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1916), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, Volume XVI, St. Chad’s, Shrewsbury, Volume II, page 975; copies viewed at Internet Archive and Mel Lockie’s website. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch P01575-2, Film 908236.
[14] St Chad, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register covering 1735. Entry dated 7 Apr for baptism of “Elizab D. of Roger Atcherley”.Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1916), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, Volume XVI, St. Chad’s, Shrewsbury, Volume II, page 993; copies viewed at Internet Archive and Mel Lockie’s website. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch P01575-2, Film 908236.
[15] St Chad, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register covering 1737. Entry dated 27 Sep for baptism of “Atcherley Martha D. of Roger Born 12”.Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1916), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, Volume XVI, St. Chad’s, Shrewsbury, Volume II, page 1013; copies viewed at Internet Archive and Mel Lockie’s website. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch P01575-2, Film 908236.
[16] St Chad, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register covering 1739. Entry dated 19 Jul for baptism of “Atcherley Hannah D: of Roger & Anne born June the 27th”.Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1916), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, Volume XVI, St. Chad’s, Shrewsbury, Volume II, page 1030; copies viewed at Internet Archive and Mel Lockie’s website. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch P01575-2, Film 908236.
[17] St Chad, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register covering 1743. Entry dated 16 Jun for baptism of “Atcherley Roger S. of Roger & Joan born June the 9th”. Note: ‘Joan’ in error for ‘Anne’? Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1916), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, Volume XVI, St. Chad’s, Shrewsbury, Volume II, page 1069; copies viewed at Internet Archive and Mel Lockie’s website.Indexed at FamilySearch [https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/JM56-Z8J], Batch P01575-2, Film 908236.
[18] St Chad, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register covering 1755. Entry dated 16 Dec for burial of “Atcherley Mr. Roger”. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Burials. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1916), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, Volume XVI, St. Chad’s, Shrewsbury, Volume II, page 1184. Copy viewed at Mel Lockie’s website.
[19] Hugh Owen and John Brickdale Blakeway (1825), A History of Shrewsbury. Page 510. Copy viewed at Google Books.
[20] Condover, Shropshire, parish register covering 1783. Entry dated 13 Mar for burial of Anne Atcherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Burials. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1906), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, Volume VI, Condover, page 300. Copies viewed at Internet Archive and Mel Lockie’s website.
[21] Holy Cross, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register covering 1783. Entry dated 13 Mar for burial of Ann Atcherly. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Burials.
[22] St Chad, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, marriage register covering 1757. Entry dated 21 Feb showing “George Matthews of the Parish of Cardiston and Anne Atcherley of this Parish were Married in this Church by Licence”. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Marriages.
[23] St Chad, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register covering 1786. Entry dated 25 Aug for burial of “Atcherley Miss Sarah”. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Burials. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch I05430-5, Film 1701330.
[24] St Chad, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register covering 1797. Entry dated 3 Mar for burial of “Atcherleys Mrs. Martha”. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Burials. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch I05430-5, Film 1701330.
[25] St Chad, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register covering 1807. Entry dated 16 Mar for burial of “Atcherley Hannah Aged 68”. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Burials. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch I05430-5, Film 1701330.
[26] St Chad, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, burial register covering 1817. Entry dated 27 Dec for “Elizabeth Atcherley | Frankwell | 82 Years”. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Burials.
[27] The Monthly Magazine, and British Register, March 1797, page 244. Copy viewed at Google Books.
[28] Gentleman’s Magazine, Volume 88, Part 1 (May 1818), page 85. (Obituary; with Anecdotes of remarkable Persons.) Copy viewed at Google Books.

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