• Nicola

Happy Lincolnshire Day!


Rebel banner

1st October is Lincolnshire Day and commemorates the Lincolnshire Rising that started in Louth on 1 October 1536 in reaction to real and imagined religious changes. Thousands of men were involved. Thanks to the detailed accounts of the rising in the State Papers the identities of over 400 of those are known. Here is the story of just two of them.


Thomas and Robert Spencer were drapers from Louth. [1] [2] They were brothers and both active in the rebellion according to depositions taken from prisoners held in Lincoln Castle and later in the Tower of London. Whether they were in the crowd on 1st October is unknown but Thomas was definitely present at the book-burning at Louth on Monday 2 October.[5] Sir Edward Maddison mentioned ‘Robert Spencer and his brother’ as being amongst the ringleaders when the rebels gathered at Caistor on Tuesday.[3] The leader of the Louth rebels, Nicholas Melton, said that Robert and Thomas were among those who encouraged the rebels to take the commissioners at Caistor.[4]


Luckily for them, they weren’t captured or turned in after the rebellion. Like many of the ordinary men involved (apart from the unfortunate ones who were executed), they appear to have been able to return to their normal lives. They were churchwardens both before and after the Rising. Robert was first a churchwarden in 1513. [6] Thomas was churchwarden for the first time in 1527-8.[7]


Their wills which are both held by the Prerogative Court of Canterbury and available on Ancestry are a great place to find out more information on the wider Spencer families. The probate date for Thomas Spencer’s will was 14 April 1551. It tells us that his wife’s name was Jennet, his son in law was called Thomas Crosyer, he had a son called John and, of course, a brother called Robert. He also refers to “his brother” William Kynge and William’s son John although it is not clear what the connection is between the Kings and the Spencers, perhaps they were half-brothers. William King was a bailiff of Louth and is referred to in several depositions as a rebel captain and paymaster.[8] In fact, he was so infamous that a memo on 23 October in the State Papers marvelled that he had not yet been accused.[9] Thomas also mentions another brother in his will: Sir John Wheteley, again the connection is not clear.


St James church, Louth

At the time of his death Thomas owned a shop, three houses, one which he lived in and another with a tenant called John Rede and a little house on the bankside, he had the lease of a garden by the church and a close at Spitlehill. He also had a wood called Elandhill. In his will Thomas left money to found a coal charity funded by a property on Mercer Row. [10]

Thomas was buried in Louth, St James on 10 March 1550/1.[11] There were clearly issues with John receiving his inheritance as he later took his father’s executors to court, the records of this are in the National Archives and reveal that John was living in East Bergholt in Suffolk.[12]


Robert died in 1552, the probate date for his will was 1 August. In his will he lists his son, Robert, daughter-in-law Margaret, Richard and Isabel the children of his son and finally Elizabeth, his daughter who was married to Robert Proctor. He also mentions a Michell Spenser but the relationship is not clear. There is no mention of a wife and the Churchwarden’s Accounts confirm that her name was Isabel and she died in 1550 and the burial took place on 6 September.[13] In his will he lists the house that he lives in, and the one adjoining it. There is also property in several villages around Louth including Huttoft, Legbourne and Stewton.[14] Robert was buried at Louth, St James church, on 22 July 1552.[15]


The table below shows data extracted from the Louth Churchwardens book and parish registers up to the death of Robert in 1552. I had hoped to build a family tree for the Spencers based on this information. However this is difficult with 16th century parish registers as the information is very basic. For example a typical marriage entry provides just the names of the bride and groom. 19th century marriage records include the age of the bride and groom, their address, their father’s names and occupations, ensuring this data matches with what is already known enables me to be confident that I have located the right person.



There are several children born in Louth in the 1540s and listed as children of Thomas. However for one of them, Michael (perhaps the Michel mentioned in Robert’s will??), his father is recorded as Thomas Spenser Junior which means there were two men called Thomas Spencer in Louth.[16] I can be confident that the Dorothe Spencer who married Thomas Crozyer on 21 November 1541 was the child of the rebel Thomas as he mentions Crozyer in his will.'[17] It would be reasonable to theorise that the Thomas who married Maria Brunet on 3 October 1541 was a brother of Dorothe. Michael, son of Thomas Junior, was born following this marriage so would support the theory that this was Thomas Junior with the rebel Thomas being Thomas Senior. If so, why is Thomas Junior not referenced in his father’s will? Were Ales and Agnes both wives of rebel Thomas, with Jennet mentioned in his will being his third wife? If so, which is the mother of the John mentioned in his will? Is George born in 1540 the child of Thomas and Jennet? Why is he not mentioned in the will? These are questions that future research may unravel.


Footnotes:

[1] Testamentary Records. England. 14 April 1551. Thomas Spencer. Will. Prerogative Court of Canterbury and Related Probate Jurisdictions: Will Registers; Class: PROB 11; Piece: 34. Collection: England & Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1384-1858. www.ancestry.co.uk. Accessed 12 May 2019


[2] Testamentary Records. England. 1 August 1552. Robert Spencer. Will. Prerogative Court of Canterbury and Related Probate Jurisdictions: Will Registers; Class: PROB 11; Piece: 35. Collection: England & Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1384-1858. www.ancestry.co.uk. Accessed 12 May 2019


[3] Gairdner, James. (1888) Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 11, July-December 1536. London: HMSO., para.568 (page 225) https://www.british-history.ac.uk/letters-papers-hen8/vol11 : accessed 22 November 2018.


[4] Ibid., para.968 (p 390)


[5] Ibid., para.828 (p 323)


[6] Dudding, Reginald Charles. (1941) The first churchwardens’ book of Louth, 1500-1524. Oxford: Oxford University Press., p 149.


[7] Louth Churchwardens Accounts 1527-1559. 1527-8. Reference: LOUTH ST JAMES PAR/7/2 Lincolnshire Archives, Lincoln.


[8] Gairdner (1888) op. cit. para.853 (p 341).


[9] Ibid., para.843 (p335)


[10] Louth Navigation Trust. Feoffees & the charities of Louth. http://www.louthcanal.org.uk/feoffees.html. Accessed 29 May 2019


[11] Burials (PR) England. Louth St James, Lincolnshire. 10 March 1550/1. SPENCER, Thomas. Collection: Lincolnshire Burials. www.findmypast.co.uk. Accessed 29 May 2019


[12] National Archives (Great Britain). Spenser v Talbot. SPENCER, John. 1553-5. Catalogue entry only. Collection: Court of Chancery: Six Clerks Office. C 1/1382/39-40. National Archives (Great Britain), Kew. https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C7502831. Accessed 29 May 2019.


[13] Burials (PR) England. Louth St James, Lincolnshire. 6 September 1550. SPENCER, Isabella. Collection: Lincolnshire Burials. www.findmypast.co.uk. Accessed 29 May 2019


[14] Testamentary Records. England. 1 August 1552. Robert Spencer. Will. Prerogative Court of Canterbury and Related Probate Jurisdictions: Will Registers; Class: PROB 11; Piece: 35. Collection: England & Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1384-1858. www.ancestry.co.uk. Accessed 12 May 2019


[15] Burials (PR) England. Louth St James, Lincolnshire. 22 July 1552. SPENCER, Robert. Collection: Lincolnshire Burials. www.findmypast.co.uk. Accessed 29 May 2019


[16] Baptisms (PR) England. Louth St James, Lincolnshire. 28 September 1542. SPENCER, Michael. Collection: Lincolnshire Baptisms www.findmypast.co.uk Accessed 29 May 2019


[17] Marriages (PR) England. Lincolnshire, Louth, St James. 21 November 1541. SPENCER Dorothe and CROZYER Thomas. Collection: Lincolnshire Marriages. www.findmypast.co.uk. Accessed 29 May 2019

14 views
Contact Us
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

© 2015 by NICOLA HALLAM. Proudly created with Wix.com