Edward Grove of West Bromwich

Edward Grove of West Bromwich left a will, written in 1634 and executed in 1641, that gives a long list of children and children in law. It is a very useful will in getting to grips with a few of the families discussed on this web site – notably the Darbys, Willetts  and Russells of Rowley Regis. 

It would appear his two surviving sons are Edward and Thomas who died within six months of each other both leaving wills in 1668. They are linked by a number of things, but notably their sister Jone Cowper (m 5 Jan 1619). There is also a son Henry, probably older, who may have died shortly after the will was written.

It seems likely though, that Edward’s original heir was a John Grove, who was buried in St Giles, Rowley Regis on 3 Feb 1630. John Grove was the father of Thomas Grove of Rowley (born c 1611) who died young in 1642 with three young children. Thomas, the grandson, it would seem, is mentioned in the will together with his mother, Mary, and brother Edward and sister Ann. After 1642 Thomas Grove’s widow Margery remarried Thomas Russell. When her daughter Margery Grove (bap 1640) marries William Turton, the vicar of Rowley Regis, it is this Mrs Russell who is identified in the Rowley parish register on 12 Jul 1659 as the mother of the bride. At the very least these descendants of John Grove in Rowley Regis are referred to as cousins in both the wills of Edward’s two longest living sons, Edward(will 1668) and Thomas(will 1669).

The 1641 will also shows a close relationship between Edward Grove senior’s  family and the Dudley family of West Bromwich. The Dudleys of West Bromwich are probably descended from the main aristocratic Dudley family in Dudley but from a branch in the early 16th century if not earlier. They are distinct from the Tipton branch and the Tomlinson/Sutton branch.

In Edward Grove’s will there are an intriguing number of references to the Dudley family and to his daughters and sons-in-law, by which it becomes clear he means stepchildren. The marriage of Francis Penn to his daughter in law Mary (Dudley) is a key and takes place in All Saints, West Bromwich on 16 Feb 1613. This indicates that at some point Edward inherited a second family by remarrying a Dudley widow. The marriage of Edward Grove to Ann Dudley recorded in All Saints, West Bromwich, on 21 May 1632 is the most likely, but this is very late as a date to work. We know also from the will that his actual daughter Ellen Grove is married to a Dudley so the two families are very close. There are possibly more than two inter marriages. However, even though Edward talks about his son-in-law William Dudley it would be to jump to conclusions that he might be married to Ellen as he could also mean that William is his stepson

Two further wills of the Dudley family in West Bromwich help elucidate more facts.

The 1603 will of Humphrey Dudley of West Bromwich shows he is seemingly a close contemporary of Edward Grove both probably born in about 1565. He refers to his well beloved friends Edward Grove and John Jesson. This would probably be John Jesson the elder. The widow of John Jesson the nephew went on to marry Edward’s son Thomas in 1631. She was born Amy Darby from Rowley Regis. Edward Grove is named sole executor of Humphrey’s will.

More significant is the will of William Dudley, Yeoman of West Bromwich in 1598, although unlike Humphrey’s will Edward Grove is not mentioned by name. William Dudley’s widow is named as Anne and he has four children Thomas, William, Elizabeth and Mary. This chimes exactly with what we know about Edward Grove’s second family acquired at second marriage.

It looks as if another of his ‘daughters-in-law’ is Elizabeth (Dudley) who marries Richard Willetts probably in about 1608. One suspects strongly he is the son of Thomas Willetts mentioned as the brother-in-law of Edmonde Darby (will 1598). Richard and Elizabeth’s daughter Ann Willetts (bap 1611)  marries Henry Peyton of Dudley. Their other numerous sons spawn a large number of Willetts families living in and around the large parish of St Giles, Rowley Regis.

Finally as a footnote there is the will of Thomas Dudley of West Bromwich of 1652. This would appear to be the oldest son and heir of William Dudley (will 1598) born about 1585. This will is cited (somewhat erroneously) in histories of the Tipton Dudleys and research around Thomas Dudley, first Governor of Massachusetts. However the will mentions Mr Thomas Grove of West Bromwich as his brother in law. He also mentions his wife Ellen and his brother William Dudley. This strongly implies that it is Thomas Dudley who is married to Ellen Grove and not the brother William. No marriage records can be found to check this out, but Edward Grove’s use of the words  ‘son-in-law’ is a potential trap.


  • Will of Edward Grove, Lichfield Record Office, Probate 31 Jan 1641/42
  • Will of Edward Grove, Lichfield Record Office, Probate 22 Jan 1668/69 (son)
  • Will of Thomas Grove, PCC, Probate 17 Feb 1669/70 (son)
  • Will of Thomas Dudley, PCC,  Probate 30 Jun 1652 (eldest stepson)
  • Will of Humphrey Dudley, Lichfield Record Office, Probate 19 Oct 1603
  • Will of William Dudley, PCC, Probate 23 Aug 1598 (second wife’s first husband)
  • A History of West Bromwich, Mary Willett, 1882.
  • CR 2981 Fetherstone Records: Warwickshire Record Office (Edward, John and Thomas Grove deed papers)
Last updated on 10 June 2023 by JJ Morgan