William Barnesley of Trysull, died 1571

William Barnesley of Trysull in Staffordshire died and left a will written on 28 Mar 1571. He is described as a Yeoman and is the grandfather of the William Barnesley, who died in 1640. It would appear to be this grandson William, son of his eldest son Thomas, who succeeded in adopting the Coat of Arms of the Barnesley family of Bromsgrove in about 1597, proving the common line of descent with the Barnesleys of Barnesley Hall. Certainly his will shows a number of important connections with the landed and merchant classes in Elizabethan South Staffordshire.

In the various Heraldic Visitations of Staffordshire we learn that William’s wife was Margery Whorwood daughter of John Whorwood of Bobbington. This family of Bobbington Whorwoods according to the Visitations are related, three generations back, to the family of Sir William Whorwood of nearby Compton. Sir William rose to be Attorney General under Henry VIII.

William’s will, however does not mention any Whorwoods but rather the Wollaston family of nearby Trescott Grange. William Wollaston, appointed overseer of the will was most probably William Barnesley’s brother in law, married to his deceased sister Elizabeth. Moreover according to the pedigrees William Barnesley’s own mother was also a Wollaston.

William’s will leaves half his property to his wife, Margery, and the life interest reverting back to his oldest son Thomas Barnesley. The property included the lease of a Mill, probably actually owned by the Wollaston family. His only other son Nicholas Barnesley who was a ‘Draper and Grocer’  in Wolverhampton was left charged with the collection a string of debts owed to William. We can deduce from Nicholas’s own will when he died in nearby Wolverhampton in 1608, that Nicholas was a successful merchant probably in the wool and cloth trade. He must have spent much time in London as his children were married there. He also owned property in Chingford in Essex. William’s grandson by Nicholas indeed died in Chingford in 1605.

The long list of debtors in William’s own will certainly suggests that William himself was involved in trade presumably derived from the Mill. It can only be speculation that this was also somehow to do with the processing of wool and woollen cloth as this was the underpinning driving force of the local economy and William did not own land in any quantity.

The list of money owed to William includes members of the Grey family of Enville including moneys mentioned in the will of Thomas Grey. William Barnesley is indeed mentioned in the will of Thomas Grey MP, written on 22 Dec 1559 that ties in nicely.

Another listed debtor to William in 1571 is Thomas Dolman. This Thomas Dolman who died in 1577 was married to his niece Ann Wollaston and was the great grandfather of the Thomas Dolman, who served on the Committee at Stafford in the Civil War.

William also mentions his son-in-law Hugh Southall who was married to his daughter Ann. The Southall or Southole family lived at Beamish Hall in nearby Albrighton. Hugh Southall owed William £3 for a bay gelding.

The other child mentioned was Elizabeth Barnesley who was probably the youngest daughter. She was later to marry William Bailey.

William’s burial in 1571 is not recorded but his widow Margery is recorded as being buried in All Saints Trysull on 25 Jun 1588.


  • Will of William Barne[s]ley, Probate 10 Jun 1571, Lichfield Record Office
  • Heraldic Visitation of Staffordshire, 1583, 1614 etc Dugdale et al.
  • Will of Nicholas Barnesley, Probate 18 Jun 1608, PCC (Younger Son)
  • Will of Johanna Barnesley, Probate 20 Nov 1613, PCC (Daughter-in-law)
  • Will of William Barnesley of Chingford , Probate 21 Jan 1605, PCC (Grandson by Nicholas)
  • Will of Thomas Grey, Probate 12 Feb 1565/6, Lichfield Record Office
    • Thomas Grey was also the brother in law of Sir William Whorwood, Attorney General in the 1540’s, who was married to Cassandra Grey – both children of Sir Edward Grey of Enville.
  • The 1609 will of Hugh Wollaston, his great nephew, talks about a Mill and a lease of twelve years to William Barnesley and others.