Thomas Madstard, Mercer, of Stourbridge

Thomas Madstard was a wealthy merchant based in Elizabethan Stourbridge. He died and left a will dated 1587. His wife, Mary, and unmarried second daughter, Ann, also left wills, from which we can build a picture of their life and family.

It would appear that Thomas married Mary Tyrer in St Peter’s Pedmore in Jan 1553. He would have therefore most probably been born about 1530.

A little more can be gleaned about the Tyrer family in Pedmore. A Thomas Tyrer had been Vicar of Pedmore in the 1530’s and later he was apparently Rector of Quatt, nearby. It is recorded that he resigned as Rector of Quatt in 1547 but re-emerges as Rector of Hagley, appointed in 1553 a post he held until his death in 1571. The dates are significant as they would suggest he was a conservative clergyman – one who was out of favour under the religious regime of the young Edward VI but restored under Mary. He was nonetheless flexible enough to retain his post under the ambiguities of Elizabeth’s more subtle religious policy. All this would suggest that he is unlikely to be a married priest and therefore not the father of Mary Tyrer. Nonetheless it gives a clear indication that the Tyrers were literate and Mary was an Elizabethan woman by background and education who was evidently well equipped to participate actively in her husband’s business.

From his own will Thomas displays considerable wealth. Each of his six younger unmarried daughters were to receive one hundred pounds each in cash on their marriage.

Thomas’s eldest daughter, the only one already married in 1587, would appear to be Margery, whose husband was James Barnesley.

His two sons Richard and George received property, directly or by reversion. Richard married Alice King in St Martin’s Birmingham shortly after his father’s death on 9 Dec 1587.  According to Nigel Perry in his History of Stourbridge, in 1590 Richard was elected as constable of Stourbridge, where he had an erratic reputation being dubbed ‘Madstark alias Starkmad’.

Although Thomas describes himself as a Mercer, some clarity is provided by the will of his daughter Anne in 1600. Here she makes it clear that the family through the female line at least, was running the ‘Crown’ in Stourbridge.

The sole executrix  of Thomas’s will was Mary Madstard, his wife. The daughter Anne was the sole executor in turn of Mary’s will.

Thomas’s overseers included his brother-in-law, Christopher Tyrer and John Bache, married to his sister Isabel as well as the two sons.

The widow Mary Madstard’s will written some ten years later sheds further light on the family. Mary Madstard the third eldest daughter was married to William Darby and Isabel the fourth eldest daughter was married to Thomas Barnesley, son of William Barnesley of Trysull. The two sons-in-law Thomas and  James Barnesley were cousins. The daughters Anne, Dorothy, Katherine and Elizabeth are all still unmarried in 1597.

When the spinster Anne dies in 1600 the three remaining eligible daughters, each with £100 on their head are made joint executors and overseers of their own dowry.

Four of Thomas’s Barnesley granddaughters by his daughter Isabel respectively went on to marry William Bendy of Shut End, Thomas Pudsey of Trysull, John Bradney of Penn and Richard Brettell of Kingswinford.

 Sources and Notes

  • Will of Thomas Madstard, Probate 9 Oct 1587, PCC
  • Will of Mary Madstard, Probate, 20 Oct 1597, PCC (Wife)
  • Will of Anne Madstard, Probate 23 May 1600, PCC (Daughter)
  • CCED – Church of England Clergy Database (Thomas Tyrer)
  • National Archives: MS 3279/351933 – Thomas Tyrer, Rector of Pedmore, 29 Sep 1535
  • John Bache, married to Isabel Madstard (sister) is likely closely related (if not a direct forebear) of Thomas Bache of Nether Penn (will 1617). This branch of the Baches at one time lived in the Wodehouse Wombourne.
  • Nigel Perry: History of Stourbridge. Phillimore (2005) – this gives the location of the Crown Inn in central Stourbridge as in Crown Lane (now Enville Street)
  • Chambers RL: The Madstard Case or Stark Mad in Stourbridge, Dulston (1986) – this focuses on the case of Richard but is as yet unseen by me. It describes a shop and premises next to the Crown owned by Richard in the late 1590’s.
  • Admon of George Madstard, Worcester Record Office, 1599 (unseen) would suggest George at least was dead by 1600. One interpretation of Anne’s will would be that there is insufficient money to pay the generous dowries promised by the father in 1587 even when the ‘tayle’ of the estate seemed to now rest in the hands of Anne according to her will.