John Cartwright of Rowley Regis, died 1587

John Cartwright of Rowley in Staffordshire left a will dated 25 Nov 1587. He seems to have been a man of moderate wealth and the will gives a whole list of fellow inhabitants of Rowley Regis who owe him money. This list is fascinating as a background to many of the families featured on this web site.

There are a number of other Cartwright families in the area notably in Dudley but given the status and wealth of John Cartwright in the Parish of Rowley we can tie a number of strands together with some degree of high probability.

John Cartwright married Alice Ward on 28 Jan 1556 as he states his brother-in-law is John Ward and there is a marriage recorded in the Parish Register of St Giles Rowley Regis. His surviving children in 1587 are one son, William and three daughters Margery, Alice and Isabel. It would seem reasonable to state that they would all be in their twenties. The Parish Register of St Giles has large gaps from the 1560’s and is not really intact until after 1602 so no baptisms for these children are extant

Two documents in the Dudley Archives dated 17 May 1612 pick up on a William Cartwright of Rowley and his two sons William and John. This William Cartwright would seem very likely to be the only son of John Cartwright mentioned in this 1587 will. A number of pieces of evidence point to the fact that John Cartwright, the grandson, would very likely be the father of Alice Cartwright (bap 3 May 1640) who is the bride of Edmund Darby (m 10 Dec 1660). These relate to the coincidental dates of the leases and the description of the land holdings in Rowley that match later wills, most notably Hall Field.

Importantly, two witnesses to the 1587 will are Edmund and Thomas Darby and a third is a John Darby. This Edmund Darby is likely the Edmonde Darby (bur 1598) who probably had two brothers Thomas (will 1611) and William (will 1581). Edmonde Darby we know to be the father of Alice Ireland, who along with her son William Ireland is mentioned in the 1612 documents. It seems very likely that there there are several marriage relation between the Cartwrights and the Chambers (alias Ireland) family and/or the Darby family directly.

In William Darby’s will of 1581 he names John Cartwright and Edward Grove as overseers of his will,

There is a marriage dated 17 Jul 1610 in St John’s Halesowen between a William Cartwright and Agnes Darby that may be significant but not conclusive.

Most telling is another document of 1612 that is “lease on three lives”.  These three are Alice Chambers (alias Ireland) and William and John Cartwright. This gives us good reason to believe that Alice Chambers was a sister of William and John and the wife of William Chambers alias Ireland as above. All three are grandchildren of John Cartwright. There is clearly a huge amount of inter relations between the Cartwright, Darby and Chambers family over a number of generations. These are based on a community of yeoman farmers (some with smithy’s) possibly in the mass production of nails and all very likely of a strong Puritan persuasion around the Chapel at Oldbury.

The list of debtors to John Cartwright on his death is as follows. William Coleborne (£5), Roger Colebarne (£5), William Darby (£5), Roger Aulchurch (£13), Laurence Persoul (£10), William Lowe, (23s4d) Walter Wood (£10), John Hymlocke (20s), John Wilkes (£30), John Payton (10s), Richard Harrison (10s), Anthony Willetts (27s4d), John Mason (£3), Richard Martin (£4), Charles Dudson (the vicar £3), Edward Grove (£4), John Persous (£10) , John Curtis (£5).

This list amounts to well over £100 and whilst it does not indicate how all these people came to be indebted to John Cartwright it is witness to how precociously advanced the local economy had become.



  • Ref No: DE/4/7/11/15
    • Lease for 3 Lives [Counterpart]
    • Date: 17 May 1612
    • Description[10 Jas I] i) Edward Sutton, Lord Dudley ii) William Chambers the elder of Rowley Regis, Staffs., Yeoman, Alice Chambers alias Ireland his wife, William Cartwright the younger and John Cartwright, his sons, Yeomen Land called the holte and halle [Hall] meadow in Rowley. For the lives of Alice, William the younger and John. Consideration: 50 and surrender of lease 18 Aug 27 Eliz. I [1585] Rent: 40s Signed and witnessed [seals missing]. Endorsed: ‘Box 5/4’
  • Will of John Cartwright of Rowley, National Archives PCC, 1587