Elizabeth Bendy

Elizabeth Bendy was buried on 15 Mar 1607/8 in St Mary’s Kingswinford and left a will probate 26 Apr 1608. She must have been born in the 1530’s

From this will it becomes clear she is the widow of Richard Bendy, who had died in 1592. She was therefore born Elizabeth Jones the daughter and joint heiress of Richard Jones of Dudley. The marriages of her and her two sisters are recorded in Sir William Dugdale’s Visitation of Staffordshire. Her sister Eleanor married Edward Gravenor on 20 Nov 1552. Her sister Katherine married Richard Shaw on 17 Oct 1545. Her own marriage probably took place on 22 Oct 1559 but here the transcript records “Richard Bennet toke to wyfe Elizabeth Jonnes”. As her other sisters were married in the same church of St Thomas’s Dudley and the name Jones is rare in Dudley at the time, this seems to be too strong a coincidence and one feels this should read “Richard Bendy”. In any case she must have got married (or had a second marriage) to him around then as her will indicates she had at least four surviving sons and one daughter all adults by 1600.

The will papers of Richard Bendy in 1592 only contain an inventory but offer some help to confirm this. This is because the three individuals taking the Inventory are Richard Shaw the older, Richard Shaw the younger and Thomas Bennett. Richard Shaw the older would be Elizabeth’s brother in law, whose descendants are discussed extensively on this site.

Her oldest son William Bendy must have been born between 1560 and 1570, presumably in Kingswinford where the register before 1603 are missing. Her other sons were Thomas, Nicholas, John and Richard listed in that order. Her daughter Elizabeth is named in the will as the sole executor. No baptisms exist.

William Bendy married Elizabeth Brooke on 24 Jun 1590. She was baptised on 8 Sep 1566. In the Worfield Parish register it records “William Bendy of Kingswinford married Elizabeth Brooke daughter of John Brooke of Raughton”. This marriage produced only one child as far as we know, when William Bendy  was born in about 1593. He was orphaned when his father William Bendy died young in 1598. It is enigmatic that this young grandson William is not mentioned in Elizabeth’s will. One interpretation could be that when she appoints her “daughter” Elizabeth Bendy, executor she could, in fact, mean Elizabeth her “daughter in law”, the widowed mother of the young William.

A more plausible explanation is that William Bendy’s widow, Elizabeth, had already remarried and remarried well. The marriage of Richard Lee and an Elizabeth Bendy is recorded in St Mary’s Alveley on 21 Oct 1599. This would mean that the six year old William Bendy gained a stepfather and was brought up in and around Coton Hall, the Lee estate. This would help explain why William Bendy was able to advance his career and marry so advantageously to the daughter of William Barnesley in 1619. No less than three of his sons were later to go to university. His oldest son, also William Bendy, went on to marry Dorothy Lee, the daughter of Lancelot Lee and the great niece of Richard Lee.

This theory is supported by other evidence in the form of the will of John Brooke of Raughton in 1602. He is Elizabeth’s father and bequeaths a sheep to each of his children. Here we see “Richard Lea, Gent” taking the inventory, easily explained as John Brooke would be his father-in-law.

The inventory takers of Elizabeth Bendy’s own will include more Bennetts that can only sow a few more questions on the St Thomas marriage entry. However more conclusively they also include John Gravenor of Enville and Francis Woodhouse of Wombourne. These two are the son and son in law of her sister Eleanor Gravenor (nee Jones). The estate is valued at £121.

Finally, there is a marriage of Richard Wightwicke to an Elizabeth Bendy at St Peter’s Collegiate Church in Wolverhampton in 16 Oct 1608. This we can surmise is Elizabeth’s daughter marrying after the death of her mother and enabled by the inheritance that she attained by the will.

Sources

  • Will of Elizabeth Bendy, Widow, Probate 26 Apr 1608, Lichfield Record Office
  • Will of Richard Bendy of Swinford Regis, Probate 30 Aug 1592, Lichfield Record Office
  • Inventory  of William Bendy, Probate 20 Nov 1599, Lichfield Record Office (Eldest Son)
  • Will of John Brooke of Raughton, Worfield, Probate 8 May 1602, Lichfield Record Office
  • Visitation of Staffordshire, 1663 ed Sidney Grazebrook, 1885 (Gravenor family)
  • Transcript of St Thomas, Dudley Parish Register, BMSGH
  • St Mary’s Worfield Parish Register, findmypast.com

Notes

  • The will of Richard Bennet of Kingswinford, 1572, may explain some of the connection between the Bennet family to the Bendy family. In this will Richard Bennet talks of his wife Johan, his late mother in law Alice Bendy and his brother in law Richard Bendy. It also mentions the dispute with John Woodhouse which cross references with documents in the National Archives C 3/198/34