Brierley had barely been cleared of his fifty York High Commission charges when his father died back in Marland, Lancashire.

Will of Thomas Brierley (September 1617)[1]

In the name of God, Amen. The second day of September in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord James[2], by the grace of God of England, France and Ireland, King, defender of the faith[3] the fifteenth and of Scotland the one and fiftieth[4]. I, Thomas Brierley of Marland in the County of Lancashire, husbandman[5], sick in body but of sound and perfect memory, do ordain and make my testimony containing my last will in manner and form following. First, I commend my soul into the hands of almighty God, trusting by the death of Jesus Christ to obtain the pardon and remission of all my sins and by no other way or means[6] and my body to be committed to Christian burial in the parish churchyard of Rochdale or where it shall please God to appoint it.

And as concerning such temporal goods as God has blessed me withall[7], it is my will and mind that after my debt and funeral expenses are paid and discharged, all the rest and residue of my goods, chattels and debts whatsoever shall be divided into three equal parts whereof one third part I give and bequeath unto Alice Brierley, my wife, as to her the same of right belongeth. One other one third part I give and bequeath unto all my sons. And the residue of the said one third part I give unto five of my youngest children to be equally divided among them[8]. Item[9]: I appoint and make Alice Brierley, my wife, and Roger Brierley, my eldest son, executors of this my testament containing my last will to perform and execute the law according to my intent and meaning of the same. And I desire my well-beloved in Christ, Richard Brierley of Marland and Robert Maden, my brother-in-law, to aid and assist my said executors and to see the same executed according to the true intent and meaning hereof.

Thomas Brierley

Witnessed by:

Richard Brierley

Robert Maden


[1] LRO WCW Thomas Brearley 1617. Note that the spellings of ‘Brearley’ have all been changed here for consistency.

[2] Thomas must have died in the narrow space between making this will on 2nd September and being interred into the ground in St. Chad’s churchyard four days later. His inventory does not appear to have been undertaken for another eight weeks.

[3] A title actually taken in 1521 by Henry VIII prior to the break with Rome.

[4] James came to the throne of Scotland in July 1567.

[5] By local standards, Thomas Brierley might easily have called himself, ‘yeoman’ but chose not to do so. This surely suggests a degree of self-effacing humility.

[6] A strongly Protestant format emphasising that salvation was not possible by any other means although it could easily have been constructed by his lawyer.

[7] Withall: archaic spelling of withal.

[8] Thomas Brierley, son of Roger (Brierley’s grandfather) had been born about 1560 in Marland, Rochdale, Lancashire, and died between 2 and 6 Sep 1617 in the same place.  He had married Alice Maden 22 Dec 1585 in Rochdale St. Chad, Lancashire, daughter of Robert Maden of Middleton.  She had been born in August 1559 in Middleton, near Oldham and died in November 1633 at Marland.

[9] Item: Note that this was originally a borrowing from Late Latin, item, the late variant of etiam’s adverbial usage (‘likewise’ or ‘also’). Note that item was used by Caesar in his Gallic Wars.

3 thoughts on “Brierley’s father’s will – transcription

  1. …and the issue concerns Thomas Brierley jnr in case you haven’t got it. I guss that is hstorical researc and unfolds and improves. Como and Lake identified Peter Shaw’s father incorrectly in an early work. By Blown by the Sprit Como has got it. Will post further if people ae interested


  2. Here is the problem. In the novel Brierley has an elder brother called Thomas. He even pops over to Grindleton with the odd rabbit from Marland. But you can see above that he is a misidentification – which just shows that even when something should be obvious…. I had Thomas down as having been born Feb 1592, Marland, Rochdale, Lancashire; d. 1635, Marland (buried Rochdale). He still cannot be entirely irrelevant to Brierley’s life – just the wrong birth identification.
    When Thomas died in 1635, he appointed Roger Brierley to be the Governor of his children – Thomas, Abraham and Alice, who were all minors at the time. The parish records for Rochdale seem to indicate that they were approximately six, four and two respectively. There may well have been a fourth minor child (Mary) by the time the will was proved. However, from the will it would appear that Katherine (née Wroe, married Oct 1626) was still alive. Thomas Brierley’s inventory was undertaken by James Marland, Richard Brierley, Thomas Brierley and James Tailor (sic). Abel’s 1637 will (i.e. Roger’s younger brother) bequeathed his interest in a farm in Oldham to Thomas’ children, Thomas and Abraham.
    Annoying for me …. but I guess, historically, open questions remain the most interesting!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s