The Bednall Archive
Last updated 21/10/2012
Thomas Badnall was born in Standon, Staffordshire early in the reign of King Henry VIII and ordained a year or so before the King's death. His subsequent career in the church spanned the reigns of Edward VI, Mary, Philip & Mary and 21 years of that of Queen Elizabeth 1st. Despite the difficult religious environment in this period, he somehow managed to serve his various parishioners for more than 30 years without incurring the displeasure of either the state or the religious authorities. This short article presents the limited information that we currently have about his life.
Thomas Badnall was the eldest son of blacksmith John Badnall of Walford in Standon, Staffordshire and his wife Alice. He was born in Walford, sometime between 1514 and 1524 but the precise data is unknown because of the lack of parish registers or other relevant information for this period. The range of dates given has been estimated on the likely age at which he became a priest (under church law, Thomas had to be at least 24 years of age to become a deacon), the number and approximate ages of his siblings, the date at which his father is first recorded in the parish of Standon and the date of his father’s death. [i].
Standon is a small Staffordshire parish in the northern division of the Hundred of Pirehill, which is situated about 4 miles north-north-west of Eccleshall and 6 miles west of Stone. It abuts the parishes of Maer to the north-west, Swynnerton to the north-east and for the rest by various townships in Eccleshall. The southern boundary with Eccleshall being formed by a branch of the River Sow. In the 16th century, it was a parish of scattered farmhouses forming the 5 townships of Bowers, Ridge, Standon, Walford and Weston and its 30 households housed a population of between 120 and 153. The living of the parish church of All Saints was and is a rectory in the archdeaconry of Stafford and diocese of Lichfield and Coventry.[ii]
Staffordshire about 1785 (Patterson's Roads)
NB Orientation incorrect- Standon should be NW of Eccleshall
The township of Walford (sometimes called Walton) was where John Badnall and his family lived in the early 16th century. Exactly when John Badnall first moved into the township is not known but it was probably sometime between the holding of the Court Baron of Standon Manor in September 1491-2 and the first recorded occurrence of the John's name in Standon in 1525-26. Why he chose to live in the parish is unclear but it have been the result of his marriage into a local family and/or his leasing a vacant farm in Walford. [iii] [iv] When he died, John Badnall was described by his neighbours as a husbandman or tenant farmer and their inventory of his goods and chattels, valued them at £17-19s-6d, equivalent to £86300 in 2009: his livestock, crops and farming equipment accounting for 77% of the total amount. [v] John’s will and other records show that he had also been a blacksmith, with premises on Castle Street, Eccleshall. [vi] At his death, John left a widow, Alice and at least four surviving children, Thomas, William, Margaret and Agnes, the eldest of whom was Thomas.
when Thomas Badnall started his training for the clergy is not known but on the 21st March
1544, he was ordained priest in Chester Cathedral, by John Bird, Bishop of
His ordination took place "on letters dimissory" from the
Bishop of Coventry & Lichfield. within whose diocese (and under whose
jurisdiction) Thomas Badnall lived. A “Letter Dimissory” was granted
by a bishop to an individual, born or resident in his diocese, to enable him to
be ordained by another bishop, the bishop granting “Letters Dimissory”
having already established that the individual was sufficiently qualified to be
ordained. However, sometimes a “Letter Dimissory” were issued as a
testimonial by a bishop on behalf of a clergyman who was leaving his diocese to
seek employment elsewhere. [viii]
To be admitted as a priest, Thomas had to prove his entitlement to "some
ecclesiastical preferment then void in the diocese" e.g. a church, or a
minister's place in a cathedral church of the diocese in which he was ordained.
Francis Rosse (or Roos), armiger, provided Thomas with a suitable title,
possibly within the Diocese of Chester, but what form this took is uncertain.
Francis Roos was born at Laxton, Nottinghamshire in 1506 and buried in Standon, Staffordshire, in 1578. He lived at Weston Hall in Standon for many years and was not only Lord of the Manor of Laxton but also held half the Manor of Meir and other lands in Weston, Bowers, Chorlton, Swineshead, Knighton and Clanford, Staffordshire.[ix], [x] Roos would have known and been on familiar terms with, the Badnall family's Broughton and Vyse neighbours both of whom were wealthy and locally influential. The Vyse’s were hereditary bailiffs of the Manor of Standon and held the manor for some years before Humphrey Vyse of Walford acquired the Lordship in 1564. [xi]
When Thomas was ordained, the priest was viewed as the link between God and the people and therefore his principal duty was the pastoral care of his parishioners, involving, amongst other things the provision of Divine Services in the appropriate form and at the specified times; preaching; reading Holy Scripture and homilies in church; carrying out the offices of Holy Communion and confession; baptising infants; catechising children; preparing them for confirmation, marrying suitably qualified couples, providing extreme unction for the dying and burying the dead. His duties were much more extensive than this for they also had to monitor not only the attendance of parishioners at church (people could be fined for non-attendance) but also their daily behaviour, in particular with regard to the sins of fornication and adultery. The church could punish sins by requiring transgressors to do penance or issue an indulgence pardoning them in return for a payment. As a priest, Thomas was expected to abstain from marriage.
Of the right Use of the Church
Of the Nativity of Christ
2. Against peril of Idolatry
Of the Passion of Christ
Of repairing and keeping clean of Churches
Of the Resurrection of Christ
Of good Works: first of Fasting
Of the worthy receiving Holy Communion
Against Gluttony and Drunkenness
Of the Gifts of the Holy Ghost
Against Excess of Apparel
For the Rogation of Days
Of the State of Matrimony
Of the Place and Time of Prayer
Of the reverend estimation of God's Word
Read In Church
Following his ordination, Thomas appears to
have been appointed curate of the parish church of St Mary the Virgin, Rolleston
upon Dove, Staffordshire, for in July 1546 he is referred to as "Dominus
Thomas Badnall, curate" in the will of Thomas Rolleston of Rolleston.[xii]
No direct evidence to confirm this has been found and his curacy might relate to
some other cure. However, two years before Thomas witnessed the Rolleston’s
will, one Nicholas Morrey LL. B, was instituted rector of Rolston or Rolleston
on 3rd February 1544.[xiii] In 1553, Morrey was
deprived of his benefice for the crime of marriage and was succeeded by one
Thomas Bolte who was instituted Vicar of Rolston on 29th May 1554, just a month
before Thomas Badnall was instituted Vicar of Lillington, Warwickshire.[xiv], [xv]
Was Thomas curate of Rolleston throughout Morrey’s rectorate - who knows?
The title "Dominus" given to Thomas implies that he was a
non-graduate clerk in religious orders.
The title "Dominus" given to Thomas implies that he was a non-graduate clerk in religious orders.
Beautiful in the valley of the Dove....it has woods and copses everywhere. High
above it all rises the fine spire of the 14th century church. ....Except for a
modern aisle the church is 14th century.
While Thomas was curate of Rolleston, his father died, leaving his wife Alice and his eldest son Thomas to execute his will, with “Humfrey Vyse of Standon gentylman superyser” to see that his wishes were properly carried out. In his will John Badnall bequeathed to “Thomas my son prest” “all my lands and tenaments ye heyrelomys thereunto belongyng durynge hys lyfe naturall”, though out of this, Thomas had to provide marriage portions of £10 for his sisters Agnes and Margaret.[xvi] To Thomas’ younger brother, William, he bequeathed “my Steddye hamers tongys with all other toylys to hys craft belongynge with ye house I dwell in so that Alyse my wyfe injoye and ocopye half with hyn ye same house with all ye apportenance durynge her lyfe naturall”. With one exception, what the family "heyrelomys" belonging to the farm were is unknown, the exception is "a fetherbed" in recompense for which Thomas, in his will more than 30 years after their father's death, bequeathed his "beste fetherbed, my beste paire of shette my best bolster, my best pillows beere, my best coverlet" to his brother William.
Exactly how John Badnall's wishes were fulfilled, however, is not known but in 1552, 2 years before Thomas moved to Lillington, the Steward of the then Lord of the Manor of Standon, granted the “messuage, with all lands, tenements, meadows, feedings and pasture” then in the tenure of William Bednall (Badnall), to William Bednall and his son William. William senior did “fealty by the verge”, a ceremony in which the tenant, holding a rod or stick called verge in his hand, did fealty to his Lord and was admitted tenant for a term of lives (usually 3). The tenancy was at the will of the Lord and the custom of the manor and the William had to pay not only “the rent and services thereupon due and accustomed” but also “the herriot when it shall fall due”. This suggests that following John’s death, Thomas, Alice his mother and his brother William had come to some agreement over the future of Badnall farm at Walford, which involved Alice and her daughter Margaret going to live with Thomas and William paying his mother an annuity.
On the 24 July 1554, Thomas was inducted as Perpetual Vicar of Lyllington, Warwickshire where he remained until the 1561.[xvii] [xviii][xix] The village of Lillington lies approximately 1½ mile NNE of Leamington and 3 NE of Warwick. The 14th century church of St. Mary Magdalene once belonged once to the monks of Kenilworth and its parish encompasses some 1,324 acres. Like many churches, St. Mary’s has since undergone many changes and following restoration in 1847 and enlargement in 1858, consists now of nave, aisles, and chancel, with an embattled tower. Fortunately the late Perpendicular tower and a contemporary bell, cast around 1480, were retained [xx] The figure below shows the church in or about 1900.
How much Thomas's living was worth has not yet been determined but in 1714, the vicar of Lillington, Thomas Marshall, leased all the glebe lands belonging to the vicarage of Lillington, the vicarage house, outhouses, orchard and churchyard to Thomas Gibbs of Lillington, for £15 per annum. In addition to the rent, Gibbs was obliged to keep the buildings in "tenantable repair" and required not to lop any trees or underwood "nor put or suffer to be put any Cattle (except Sheep) into the Orchard or (except Horses) into the Churchyard" and to present Marshall "with an equal share of Apples and Pears that shall grow upon the Golden-Runnet & Warden-Pear-Trees" every year. [xxi] Inflation between the 16th and 18th centuries mean that this sum was equivalent £7 a year in 1556 but quite what this means in terms of Thomas' income is difficult to determine for on the one hand he lived in the vicarage and could not therefore benefit from renting it out and on the other hand, properly farmed, the glebe lands, orchard etc, should have returned significantly more value in produce than the annual sum they could be rented out for. Furthermore, the Lillington living almost certainly included other sources of income than the produce of the glebe though what these were is not currently known.
much is known of this period of Thomas’s life except that his mother lived in
the Lillington vicarage with him until her death and burial there in September
1558. [xxii] Following his mother’s
death, Thomas was cared for by his sister Margaret who lived with him until her
death sometime prior to 1578.[xxiii]
On the 9th June 1561, Thomas Bentham, Bishop of Coventry & Lichfield, inducted Thomas as Perpetual Vicar of Offchurch, Warwickshire on the recommendation of Henry Alcock of Offchurch, the then patron of the living.[xxiv] Thomas was destined to serve the parishioners of this Warwickshire village for the rest of his life.
“Offchurch is a parish and village 3 miles east of Leamington Spa. On the north and west it is bounded by the river Leam, and on the south by a small stream running close to the Warwick branch of the Oxford Canal and joining the Leam near Quinton hill; this was called the Quensenbrok in 1411. The Fosse Way crosses the parish diagonally from south west to northeast, being a metalled road throughout its limits though not a main road, and another ancient highway, the Welsh Road, crosses the Fosse Way more or less at right angles in the centre of the parish and runs through the village, which is connected by other roads with Hunningham, Long Itchington, and Radford Semele. There is a little woodland, and the park of Offchurch Bury, once a seat of the Knightleys and later of the Earls of Aylesford, occupies a large loop in the River Leam in the west. The ground rises from 175 ft. above sea level near the river to 346 ft. on the eastern edge of the parish” 'Parishes: Offchurch', A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 6: Knightlow hundred (1951), pp. 194-198. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=57126
The parish church of St. Gregory has a chancel, a north vestry, a nave with a south porch and a west tower built of the local red sandstone. It is basically of 12th century construction although the tower dates from the 15th century: the roof and the chancel were reconstructed in the 16th century and 19th centuries respectively. In 1535 the vicarage was valued at £7 7s 6d with 8s for for procurations (the money equivalent of of meat, drink and other necessaries provided for bishops during their visitations of parish churches) and synodals (A rent paid by a parish priest to the bishop or archdeacon at the time of his Easter visitation). The Prior of Coventry leased the tithes in 1538 for a period of 60 years and in 1545, the rectory was leased to one John Hales who subsequently bequeathed it to his brother Bartholomew.
The parish records don't go back beyond the middle of the 17th century and apart from Thomas's will, there are no relics of or references to Badnalls buried in the chancel or elsewhere in or around the church. Indeed even Thomas Badnall’s bequest “to the communion table of Offchurch one clothe of Lynnen to make a communion clothe to remayne to the said table so long as the holy communion ys administered accordynge to the rule of the gospell and no longer and my will is that the letters of my name shall be set upon the said clothe for a remeburance of my gifte”, is now long forgotten. [xxv] [xxvi] The above figure shows St. Gregory’s as it appeared in the 1970s.
Clerk-Vicar's comfortable living
His new benefice provided Thomas with a reasonable standard of living. He had a regular, tithe based income, farmed the glebe lands and lived in an 8-bay vicarage that, with 7 rooms, that was almost twice the size of his father’s house in Walford. [xxvii] Offchurch vicarage then comprised a hall, parlour with a chamber next to it, a “hye” or upper chamber, a nether or lower chamber, a buttery and a kitchen and although the actual layout of the house is uncertain, the order in which Thomas’s neighbours listed its contents following his death provides clues. They started in the hall, which they may have entered from a screen or cross passage and proceeded via the parlour to the upper and lower chambers before entering the chamber next to the parlour. After listing the items in the latter they visited the buttery and then the kitchen, which may have been on the opposite side of the cross passage to the hall. The presence of upper and lower chambers suggests that at least part of the house was of two-storeys and that, in the 16th century, Offchurch vicarage was a mainly single storey, timber framed building with a two storey section at one end.
neighbours, Rychard Arnolde, Wm.Wryght, Peter Whithead and William Bayley, who
drew up an inventory of Thomas’ goods and chattels after his death, did not
list fires or fireplaces, but the presence of “ii spjtte a peare of
cobbiornes a pere of potthoks with hengles a peare of tongs a fier shovell”
in “The Buttery” indicates the presence of a fireplace nearby,
probably in the “Kytchen”. There was certainly a fireplace in the
hall, for in his will, Thomas bequeathed (amongst other things) “the table
in the hall by the fyer” to William, “son of Wm. Greene”.
Unlike his father’s house, [xxviii] Thomas used the hall (or house-place) purely as a living room and it was well furnished with a variety of tables, cupboards, forms, and chairs. Painted clothes hung on its walls and tallow candles in brass candlesticks provided illumination when necessary. The cushions found in this room after Thomas' death hint at a degree of comfort not present in the humbler houses of most of his parishioners. The parlour seems to have been used as both a bedroom and a study, for in addition to a comfortable featherbed, [xxix] various tables, a cupboard and 2 coffers, there was a "presse for bokes", containing "Bede upon the Epistles" "The Poor Man's Library" and four other books, valued altogether at 46s 8d ( approximately £6700 today). Thomas may have been sleeping in the parlour when he died, for it was there that his few clothes (a shirt, 2 pairs of hose, 2 gowns, 2 coats, a doublet and a cloak) were found after his death. The most important of the “chambers” or bedrooms was the "Hye Chamber”, which had a painted clothes upon the wall and contained two standing beds with testers, a coffer, and a standing table. The listing of feather beds, sheets and other items are further indications of the degree of comfort life in the vicarage provided for Thomas.
The Buttery seems to have been used as a general store room and contained, in addition to four cheese vats that one would normally expect to find there, a number of items more more appropriate to the kitchen hearth or to hall fireside e.g. spits, cobirons, pothooks, fire tongs, a fire shovel. Other kitchen items included under “The Buttery” heading were pots and pans, bottles, plates and dishes and cooking utensils. The kitchen on the other hand mainly contained contained things unrelated to food preparation and cooking, e.g. a spinning wheel, a saddle, a bridle, a mattock, suggesting that the some of the items in Thomas's inventory may have been listed under the wrong heading.
Thomas's "living" was provided in part by farming the glebe lands and his farm stock and. tools comprised approximately 50% of the total value of his goods and chattels. The amount of land which he was farming is uncertain but in January 1579 his farm stock comprised kine, 3 heifers, 2 yearlings, 18 sheep and a gilt, as well as his horse (a stone nage). He was also credited with 9 lands of' winter corn, 2 tryne of fallows, £2 worth of hay, farm.
Towards the end of 1577 Thomas became seriously ill and on 27th December that year, made a will appointing his brother William the executor and his friends, Wm. Foster of Weston, Richard Arnold and Wm. Wryghte, as overseers of his will.[xxx]
In Gods name amen the xxvij day of December 1577 I Thomas Badnall clarke vicar of Ofchurch in the countie of wariwike being sick of body but of good and perfect rememberance God be thanked therefore asuering the uncertaynetie of the days of our pilgramage upon the earthe, and that the wage of all fleshe ys to return to earthe and ashes from which it was taken, do comend my soul, to almightie god my maker, and to his sonne jesus christ our redeemer trusting to be saved by the merytes of his death and passion and throughe faythe in his bloude and my body to be buryed in the channcell of Ofchurch aforesaid near unto Margaret my sister. ....................... ......................
Commencement Of The Will of Thomas Badnall, Clerk-Vicar of Offchurch, Warwickshire 1578
However, his health subsequently improved a little and so he had just over a year to put his affairs in order before he died, in January 1879. As he had wished, he was buried, as he had wished, beside his sister Margaret, in the chancel of the parish church where, for more than 18 years, he had tried to guide his parishioners to salvation and protect them from the vagaries of the political changes that affected the church in this period.
In his will
Thomas Badnall, Clerk-Vicar of Offchurch, remembered not only his relatives and
friends but also 6 of his poor parishioners, “Thomas Bannister, Edwarde
Cooke, Thomas Home, Robert Cotterell, Vidna Thorpe, Richard Piddle”,
to each of whom he left 2s, equivalent to £287 today. He also bequeathed
a further 6s (£1722) to be equally divided between the poor of the neighbouring
villages of Cobbington, Radford and Lyllington.
A number of
other people named in his will (who were not relatives) who received gifts
of furniture and / or farm stock or in two cases books, were either his friends
or people who worked for or with him, e.g. the churchwarden. The Green
family seem to have been close friends of Thomas for to William Greene’s son
William he bequeathed “one pyde cowe in the keeping of Henry Phillips my
beste table and frame the beste cobborde my beste coffer” and “the
table in the hall by the fyer. To Wm. Greene himself he left “all my
woode” and to his wife “two hogrels”. To another, possibly
related, Greene (Gregory) he left “one yerelynge oxe calfe , a table
in the hall, a turnynge table, one coffer”. Tom and John Butler were
also remembered by Thomas, with Tom receiving his “beste ij yere old heyfar
and two ewe shepe “ and John “iij hogrels, of the medle sorte of my
The Greenes and the Butlers may or may not have been able to read but Thomas' friend William. Foster of Weston, who received “one booke called the Poore manes lybrary” and the Vicar of Cobington to whom Thomas left “one booke called Bede upon the epistles”, certainly could.
Edward. A History of The Parish of Standon, 1086 to 1818. Birmingham &
London 1888 See also references [iii], [iv], and [v].
Vicar : Lillington (24/07/1554 - 09/06/1561 )
|Appt||Badnall, Thomas||24/07/1554||Perpetual Vicar||Institution||Lyllyngton/||
Perpetual Vicar : Offchurch (12/06/1561 - 16/10/1574 )
|Appt||Baddenall, Thomas||12/06/1561||Perpetual Vicar||Institution||Offchurche/||
Vicar : Offchurch (09/06/1573 - 28/03/1579 )
|Liber cleri||Badnall, Thomas||09/06/1573||Vicar||
|Vacantia||Badnoll, Thomas||28/03/1579||Perpetual Vicar||natural death||Offchurch/||
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