The Clarenceux King of Arms, the Chester Herald, and Rouge Dragon Pursuivant conducted a visitation of the County of Warwick in 1682. They were officers of the College of Arms, and their business was to ensure that families with coats of arms were entitled to bear them, and that the coats of arms conformed to heraldic principles. Although arms were only granted to people of the rank of gentleman or above, many of the gentry did not have a coat of arms, but were given the plain title of “Mr.” or “Gentleman” by their neighbours.

The name of one Sutton gentleman, Joseph Powell, occurs frequently in the Parish Register as “Mr. Joseph Powell” - for example, on his marriage to his second wife in 1656 “There were married Mr. Joseph Powell of Sutton Coldfield gentleman and Mrs. Elizabeth Sheldon of Harliston”. He appears to have been prospering, as he paid tax for five hearths in 1663 but for six hearths in 1674. He was Warden of Sutton Coldfield in 1657, but suffered a setback in 1661, when he lost his place on the Corporation. As a Nonconformist he would have been banned from holding public office under the Corporation Act brought in after the Restoration of Charles II. In 1682 Joseph Powell informed the Clarenceux King that he did not pretend to arms or gentility, and in his will he described himself as a yeoman (the rank below gentleman). But to the Parish Clerk, noting his burial on the 29th March 1685, he was still “Mr. Joseph Powell”.

After his death an inventory was taken of his household goods, showing that his house had five bedrooms, three of them containing four-poster beds. He had a bible and some books, a pair of virginals for making music, plenty of pewter, and some leather-upholstered furniture, altogether valued at nearly £100. This relatively large house was in the Moor and Ashfurlong Quarter of Sutton, but the exact location is not given. It was probably part of the house now known as Ashfurlong Hall - in the eighteenth century the part of the Commons next to Ashfurlong Hall, between Tamworth Road and Fox Hill Road, was known as Powell’s Field.

This view of the rear of Ashfurlong Hall shows the older parts of the house, probably occupied by Joseph Powell in the seventeenth century (photo courtesy Sutton Reference Library)