Extract from the will of John Agott

Until the nineteenth century Sutton Coldfield was in the Diocese of Lichfield The Consistory Court of the Bishop of Lichfield was the body responsible for proving the wills of everybody who died in the diocese. The original wills then became the property of the Bishop, and can now be seen at the Lichfield Record Office where they are still kept.

Among the Sutton Coldfield wills is that of John Agott, dated 1701. He was a poor husbandman who left his meagre wealth to his “deare wife Grace” except for some bequests to his kinsfolk - five relations each received one shilling. At the other end of the scale, in her will of 1668 Mary Risley of Langley left her brother Thomas £300 and her nephew Alexander Pudsey £500, £440 among other relatives, a pound apiece to ten of the servants and five pounds to the poor of Sutton Coldfield.

Langley Hall belonged to George Pudsey Esquire in 1668, so Mary Risley’s residence there needs some explanation. The will makes clear that she was aunt to George Pudsey’s children, so she must have been the sister of Ann Risley who married George Pudsey in 1624. George Pudsey would be succeeded at Langley by his son Henry, his other son Alexander lived in style at Oxford, and his daughter Susannah’s marriage portion was £1200 when she married Willam Bard of Lincolnshire - all named in Mary Risley’s will.

Mary’s sister Ann was no longer living, but she had another sister, Elizabeth Wood. I guess Elizabeth was the wife of Willam Wood of Peddimore - when William Wood rebuilt the ruined Peddimore Hall in 1660, was it so that his wife could be near her sisters only a mile away at Langley? William Wood had been a royalist in the Civil War, whereas Henry Pudsey had married into the Cromwellian Thornhaigh family, but old enmities were forgotten at the Restoration - Henry Pudsey’s will of 1677 names both his brother Thornhaigh and his uncle Wood as overseers.

However, more evidence is required to be sure that William Wood of Peddimore was Henry’s “Uncle Wood”. Over the entrance to Peddimore Hall there is a motto (deus noster refugium) which may be the Wood family motto (the Sacheverell motto, En Bon Foy, is above the door of New Hall which Henry Sacheverell purchased in 1611) - more research is needed.

Main entrance to Peddimore Hall, Sutton Colfield
Inscription above the door at Peddimore Hall