Family Lessons 103: Grandpa John's Will


My 17th great-gramps, John Crosse of Cross Hall in Liverpool, died in 1502, and his will has survived. I have already commented on his motives, but this time, I examine the outcomes. 

To his eldest son, Richard, my 16th great-gramps, he left ‘the big brass pot that was his mother's’. Evidently, she went to the grave before him and this large piece of brassware might have had sentimental value as well as culinary utility in the late medieval household. In addition to this, his father left him his 'best gown’. His son Roger, John’s grandson, got the ‘second best gown’. We might think it strange today if a grandfather left us an article of clothing; we would be more inclined to send it to a charity shop, or put it in the bin. Gowns then were costly and worth keeping. What kept warm an old man would do well enough for a young man.

He also provided financially for poorer folk, including:

Ellen Cross my sewing maid 20 shillings (interesting surname).

And for another such maid, he attempts to provide a husband:

to James Thomasson 10 shillings and the tenement in which Henry Coke dwells or that in which the widow of Edmund Thorpe dwells, for life, he to take my sewing maid Joan Longbakke to wife.

In other news, a chap called John Crouke got 'a cow'.

Here is an interesting survey of a man of the middling sort in early sixteenth-century England. Although I would dearly love to find and retain that ‘big brass pot’, I suspect that he was only able to be so generous because he had so much to begin with. Wealth is not an end, it is a means, a tool, a method. It is the way we can achieve good and accomplish a greater purpose. If God's providence has given you more weath than you need, avoid the twin evils of regretting it and feeling guilty, or hoarding it, thus denying others any blessing. What you have been given is on trust- you will account for every penny. 

But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. 2 Cor 9:6-8, NKJV

Will of John Crosse of Liverpool dated 20th

August, 1502 ; to be buried in the chancel of

St. Nicholas of Liverpool before the image

of the Blessed Mary ; to Richard Crosse

my son and heir, my best gown and the big

brass pot that was his mother's ; to Roger

his son, my second best gown ; to my son

William Crosse, goods in my workshop

Chorley and Liverpool. 163

(opella), Richard my heir to assign to him

the house and garden in Ley Dale Street in

which Henry Plumbe dwells and my two

workshops (with the chambers), next the

Cross, for life (see C.D. 164) ; to my wife

Agnes and my son John the chaplain, 12

silver spoons equally between them ; John

Crosse, son of Richard my heir, to have the

farm of the tenement I have in the lordship

of Walton from Wm. Lightwode for 4 years,

on condition he be willing to take holy orders,

also 20s, a tunic and gown and a pair of

" ledrybuskynnus " ; what I heretofore had

and bought of Margaret Tailor to be ex[1]pended for maintenance of a priest to

celebrate before the image of the Blessed

Mary in the chapel of Liverpool, except the

workshop which I have given to the main[1]tenance of a chaplain celebrating in the

chapel of St. Mary de Key ; to Wm. Bolton,

vicar of Walton, a silver bowl ; to Ellen

Cross my sewing maid 20s. ; to James

Thomasson 10s. and the tenement in which

Henry Coke dwells or that in which the

widow of Edmund Thorpe dwells, for life,

he to take my sewing maid Joan Longbakke

to wife ; to John Crouke, one cow ; to the

church of St. Mary of Walton 26s. 8d. ; to

the church of Sefton 20s. out of money in

hands of the rector ; all other goods to my

son John the chaplain, my wife Agnes and

Wm. Bolton chaplain, to dispose for my soul;

witnessed by Thomas Eyvis, Mayor of Liverpool, Thomas Harebrowne, William Hare browne, gent., John Fleccher, John Woolfall,

Richard Fletewode, chaplain ; proved 23rd

Sept., 1502 by the executor (John Crosse)

Photo: The site of Cross Hall where the dying man once lived.