William Hayward of Little Wenlock, died 1602

William Hayward, Gentleman of Little Wenlock died and left a will with probate dated 1 Apr 1602.

A number of pointers indicate that he is perhaps a nephew of Sir Rowland Hayward, two times Lord Mayor of London. William’s father was either a brother or first cousin of Sir Rowland.

William Hayward must have been born about 1560 and married Lucy Bucknell in Holy Cross Shrewsbury on 7 Feb 1584. Lucy remarried Edward Allcock after William’s death and we know from Edward Allcock’s will that he has a brother in law called Allen Bannister. Another marriage between Elinor Bucknell and Allen Bannister in Holy Cross Shrewsbury in 3 Feb 1576/7 would indicate fairly conclusively that this is therefore the correct marriage for William.

William names his children as William, Elizabeth, Marie, Richard, John and Thomas. The oldest William went on to marry his stepfather’s daughter Margaret Allcock and had two sons George and William.

His mother Agnes Hayward is still alive in 1602. Trying to pinpoint her maiden name is an enigma, especially if we consider she is a possible sister-in-law to Sir Rowland. She is likely related to one of the families mentioned in the will and other concurrent documents.

The overseer of the will is the “worshipful Edward Littleton esquire”, indicating a plausible family connection with the Littletons of Henley, Salop. Edward Littleton (1556-1622), a Justice, is the most likely candidate but there are a confusing number of Edward Littletons.

The most interesting section of the will is the last piece that deals with the advowson of the Rectory of Little Wenlock. Here, it transpires, William has an agreement to purchase the advowson from a Walter Pigot of Storton. However, only part payment has been made.

Walter Pigot was the son in law of Sir Walter Leveson, married to his eldest daughter Catherine Leveson. Sir Walter, a wealthy courtier and cloth merchant, had extensive estates in Shropshire, acquired at the dissolution, but sometime in the 1580’s he had shed a number of these lands to the more recently up and coming Sir Rowland Hayward.

The ‘History of the County of Shropshire’ (BHO ) shows that this advowson switched hands back again to  Sir Rowland’s sons, first Sir George and then Sir John Hayward until at least 1623.

It nonetheless states that it was controlled by William Hayward and a Maurice Wright, perhaps as trustees in 1608. It was at this date and under this stewardship that George Baxter was appointed Rector.

George Baxter became a renowned preacher and holds an incredibly long tenure in Little Wenlock until his death in 1662 at aged 86.  This patronage by William Hayward’s son is thus the only indication we really have of early Puritan beliefs held by this branch of the family. The more radical views are borne out later with the great grandson’s marriage to the strong Parliamentarian family of Thomas Pudsey in 1665 and the eventually the marriage his great great granddaughter, Mary Hayward to lawyer William Bendy in 1697.

The fact that control of the Advowson is seemingly switched back and forth between Sir John Hayward and William Hayward of Little Wenlock is significant.  It is probably impossible to tell exactly what happened – however this property right indicates that the Hayward family is close and William and his son William were the key representatives of the larger family in Little Wenlock. The different Haywards may have had different religious beliefs but it has to be significant that a radical like George Baxter survived expulsion in 1643, when he was arrested by Sir Francis Ottley and again in 1660, when he was very old man. All this was under the patronage of successive generations of the Hayward family of Little Wenlock.

Sources and Notes

  • Will of William Hayward, Probate 1 Apr 1602, PCC
  • Will of William Hayward, Probate 21 Nov 1639, PCC (Son)
  • Will of Sir John Hayward, Probate 1636, PCC (First or Second Cousin)
    • mentions William Hayward of Little Wenlock, Gent as a trustee of his father Sir Rowland’s foundation of Bridgnorth Free School. (son)
    • The other named trustee is Sir William Whitmore joint MP for Bridgnorth, 1621-1624, with Sir John Hayward
  • Will of Maurice Wright of Cleobury Mortimer, Written 9 Feb 1621, Shropshire Archives Transcript
    • His son George inherits land granted by Sir John Hayward in Little Wenlock
  • British History Online (BHO): A history of the County of Shropshire: Vol 11 Telford – Little Wenlock: Church, Manor and Economic History pp 80-91
  • Reliquiæ Baxterianæ:Mr. Richard Baxter’s Narrative of the most memorable passages of his life and times, 1696, p91
    • Records activities of dissident preachers including Rev George Baxter and his sons. Confirms George Baxter remained Rector in Little Wenlock until his 86th year.
  • The main Pigott family had their family seat at Chetwynd Hall
  • Candidate families for Agnes, the mother, could be that of Maurice Wright of Cleobury Mortimer, of Thomas Charlton of Upton, of Edward Littleton of Henley, of Thomas Jennens, Citizen and Grocer of London, or even of Sir Walter Leveson, himself.