John Leveson, son of a wealthy Wolverhampton family, married Amicia (Amy) Harman towards the end of the fifteenth century. Amy was living in Sutton Coldfield, at old Moor Hall, where her family consisted of her mother Joan, her brother Hugh and his wife, and her sister Agnes. The head of the family, her eldest brother John Harman alias Vesey, was away making his fortune at the court of King Henry VII. Agnes married a bit beneath her, a local gentleman, William Gibbons of Little Sutton.

The eldest sons of both Amy and Agnes followed their uncle Vesey’s example of going to university and being ordained. They both received advancement owing to Bishop Vesey. John Gibbons, who was older than his cousin William Leveson, became Chancellor of Exeter Cathedral in 1522, three years after Vesey was made bishop there. John Gibbons, who died in 1539, was also Vesey’s Vicar General, representing the bishop in the execution of his jurisdiction in the large Exeter diocese. The next Chancellor of Exeter Cathedral was Vesey’s nephew William Leveson, who held the office until his death in 1582.

By 1520 Bishop Vesey had acquired wealth and power, and was able to assist his kinsfolk. He set up his brother-in-law William Gibbons at New Hall, and William was the first Warden of Sutton after the town was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1528. His other brother-in-law, William Leveson, was the next Warden, elected in 1530.

Agnes Gibbons died in 1520, leaving three daughters, Joan, Alice and Ann. Joan married Thomas Kene of Sutton, and Ann married another local gentleman, Edward East of Yardley. Vesey provided them with handsome dowries, and the Sutton Corporation gave the lease of the Manor Mills, worth over £300, to Thomas Kene in 1533 because he was married to a niece of the bishop, as a token of gratitude for all Vesey had done for the town. William Leveson had interests elsewhere in England, and his daughters found husbands far away from Sutton; Elizabeth married Thomas Yard, a Devonshire gentleman, and George Robinson, a London merchant, married Ann.

Another nephew of Bishop Vesey’s was Thomas Gibbons, the second son of William Gibbons of New Hall. Thomas was a wealthy man in the 1540s, owner of the Oxfordshire manor of Ditchley as well as valuable property in London and mills at Kingsbury - perhaps he was given a good start in life by his uncle the Bishop. Whenever Bishop Vesey could take a break from his religious and political duties, he must have reflected with satisfaction that his sixteen nieces and nephews were all doing well.

North west view of Exeter Cathedral in 1830. Nearby was the splendid Bishops Palace, with the Chancellor’s house in the spacious palace grounds. The palace no longer exists, but the Chancellor’s house, occupied by Bishop Vesey’s nephews for sixty years, is still there.