These wills are from a variety of sources – some from the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, and others from county record offices. Most of the wills have been transcribed to include all the names mentioned, but not necessarily all of the details of what each person received, so please see the originals for complete details.
Knightley, George, gentleman of London, 1608
- To be buried near “my deceased good wife.”
- Bound for an annuity of £16 during the life of Henry Reignoldes, gent.
- Cousin John Hare esq
- Godson Reignald Rous esq £5
- Katherine daughter of Reignald Rous £5
- Constance Rous now wife of John Hastings, gent, £50 and some household goods. To John Hastings: two golden 30 shilling pieces
- Servant Lancelot Harvey £10 and a gown. “I do forgive him the debt his brother did owe me because he had little wages of me.”
- Servant Mary Staple £10
- Miss Mary Tipper: a cup
- Reignald Rous son of Owen Rous that was the son of Katherine my sister [ie. Owen is testator’s nephew, and “Reignald” is his great-nephew]: ring with seal of my arms, my armour, certain household goods, and a debt of £150 owed by Edmund Pirton esq, my late wife’s brother. And: £200 in the hands of my cousin Raphe Sadler, £200 in hands of my cousin Michael Heydon, £100 in hands of Simon Hastings. Rest and residue, to be executor.
- Asks Sir Edward Cooke, Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, to be his supervisor.
“All being my own hand.”
Written 22 Feb 1606/7, probate 29 Jan 1607/8
Transcriber’s notes: George married Katherine, daughter of Sir William Pyrton of Essex. They had no children. George’s sister Lettice married first William Clippesby, then William Cardinall (though none of Lettice’s children are mentioned in the will). His sister Winifred married Robert Cooke/Coke, and became the parents of Sir Edward, the Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas. George’s sister Katherine married Reynold Rous of Badingham, and several of their children are mentioned in the will, along with their grandson being named as George’s executor.
Henry Reignoldes might be the son of Henry Reignoldes of Belstead, Suffolk (bef 1527-1587) and Elizabeth Withypool (1553-?). He was born in Belstead in about 1581 and was swindled from his inheritance by his mother and his stepfather, George Brooke. Elizabeth decided that she wanted to keep the manors and lands that her husband had left him so that she would find another husband more easily, and George monopolised it. Even taking them to the Court of Chancery brought no resolution as George refused to hand the reins to his stepson. Henry might’ve been the poet of the same name who was known to have come from Suffolk. He made a terrible marriage with a young widow, Elizabeth, a daughter of Sir Dru Drury, and went off onto the continent at every opportunity. The Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology contains an article which goes into the tragic story in great depth and is well worth reading.
George was related to Henry Reignoldes of Belstead by marriage. Henry’s stepbrother, William Goldingham, Doctor at Law, married Ann Cotton, and her nephew, William Cotton of Ipswich, married Lucy, the daughter of Reginald Rouse of Badingham. Lucy appears to have been the daughter of George’s sister, Katherine. And Anne Rouse, daughter of Reginald’s relative William Rouse of Badingham, was Henry Reynolds senior’s second wife, and was William Goldingham’s mother. Her first marriage had been to Christopher Goldingham.
George was buried at St Andrew’s, Holborn, on the same day as his great-nephew probated his will.
Knightley, William, gentleman of Norwich, Norfolk, 1548
- Money for: repairs to the church of St Peter Per Mountergate, for the Guild Hall, and for prisoners in the castle
- 10 marks to be spent on mourning gowns, smocks etc for the poor
- Son George to “be found a school”, and to have 5 marks yearly
- Daughters Audrey and Katherine: to have 40sh yearly until married, and then to have 40 marks each on their marriages. If either reach 21 without marrying, to be paid 40 marks.
- My wife’s daughters Mary and Margaret 5 marks each
- Executors to occupy my manor of Meye and all my other lands and tenements in Sawston, Heverland and other nearby towns to perform my will, until my son George reaches 18, and to his heirs. Once George inherits the properties, his 5 marks annually to cease. Default of heirs: to my daughters Winifred, Audrey and Katherine and their heirs.
- All land, tenements etc in Bawton, Smalburgh, and others to executors until son George is 24, and to his issue. If no issue, to daughters as abovesaid.
- After the death of wife Agnes, manor of Mahgnt? [Martham?] to son George and his heirs. If no heirs, reversion as before.
- Wife Agnes: property in Aylesham to sell, using the money to perform will
- Wife Agnes: for life, house in St Martin’s, Ipswich
Executors: wife Agnes, her brother Sir Nicholas Hare kt, my cousin Sir William Pawe, parson of Beloud, Norfolk
Witnesses: Henry Attemere, Henry Humfrye, Robert Humfrye, Frances Wollmer
Written 12 Oct 1547, probate 24 Aug 1548
Transcriber’s notes: the father of George Knightley, above. He’s also the father of Lettice (wife of William Clippesby of Oby and William Cardinall of Great Bromley), Elizabeth (wife of Christopher Hill of East Bergholt), Winifred (wife of Robert Cooke/Coke and Robert Bozom), Audrey (wife of Thomas Gawdey), and Katherine (wife of Reginald Rouse of Badingham).
The testator was married twice, to Margaret Pawe (his “cousin” William Pawe was in fact his brother-in-law), and to Agnes Hare. Agnes had been married before, as the testator left money to his wife’s daughter’s Mary and Margaret. I’m not clear on which of William’s children were by which wife. The Essex Visitation 1558 for Knightley only gives his wife “Anne” Hare (Agnes), and attributes all of William’s children to her. The Essex Visitation also incorrectly gives “Anne’s” father’s name as Thomas – he was in fact John Hare of Homersfield (his 1526 will is at NRO). Agnes was buried at Homersfield in 1568 as “Anne Knightley, gentlewoman.” Her administration is also at NRO.