John Shattock of Staplegrove Will of 1533

by John Shattock

John Shattock is a descendant of the Norton Fitzwarren / Staplegrove Shattocks, and may indeed be a direct descendant of John Shattock of Staplegrove.

John's commentary should be read in the context of James William Shattock's letter found on the Staplegrove Shattock's page.

The John Shattock Will of 1533

chyd. of Peter and Paul in Taunton—Wells iiijd—d. Elsabeth xx nobbles—my son John all my yer [gear] in my shoppe as well as v [£] worth—Thomas my son vjd xiijs iiijd other he to have the mansion other [or] tenement the wh. I dyd dwell in—Jone my d. xls—hye crosse in the ch. of Stapulgrowe xxd—sepulker of the same ch. Xx d—Sir John Hykelege xijd—John Gune viijd.

Res.—Alice my wyff.

Overseer.—John Sauser.

Witn.—Thos. Smyth, Thos. Gymmose.

Prob. in eccl. Cath. Well., 29 Dec. 1533.

Summa inventarii, xx5 xjd.

I have attempted to put some values to this will based on the above transcription rather than the original. Therefore some of the superscript values maybe incorrect eg. For Summa inventarrii xx5 is definitely incorrect because the superscript should be a letter rather than a number. I think that the correct interpretation of xx 5 is xx g suggesting guineas rather than shillings or pounds. Some numerics are written as say vj or xj. The letter j is usually be preceded with the low case letter i

Values relating to items in the Will

Church yard of Peter and Paul in Taunton – Wells 4 pence

Daughter Elsabeth 20 nobbles

A noble is a gold coin worth 6 shillings and 8 pence x 20 = £6 13s 4d or 6 pounds 13 shillings and 4 pence or after 1430 AD a noble was worth 8s 4d x 20 = £8 6s 6d (8 pounds 6 shillings 6 pence). After 1464 it reverted back to being worth 6s 8d

My son John yer (géar = “in this year” in old English) my shop as well as 5 pounds

Thomas my son 6 pounds 13 shillings 4 pence other he to have the mansion ór (ór = at the front of the) *tenement the which I did dwell in

(a tenement is a piece of land not the Scottish or US definition that is a type of residential building)

I assumed that vjd was vjLbut there should be at least one i before the j for it to be correct.

Jone my daughter 40 shillings

High cross in the church of Staplegrove 20 pence

Sepulchre of the same church 20 pence

Sir John Hykelege 12 pence

John Gune 8 pence

Summa inventarii - Sum of the inventory - 20 shillings 11 pence (as written as xx 5) or £21 0s 11d if the sum is 20 guineas and 11 pence with a guinea being worth 21 shillings.

(it doesn’t make sense if it is xxs because this clearly is less than just one of the items when my calculation would be a total of £20 12s 4d and not £1 0s 11d. If the sum is xxG and not xx5or xxS this might be 20 guineas 11 pence or £21 0s 11d)

There is a discrepancy of 7s/7d which may mean that the value of a noble is not quite correct, although this could be just a case of miscalculation on my part. It is perhaps not a coincidence that the 20 nobles left to Elsabeth has a monetary value almost exactly the same as that left to her brother Thomas who received pounds, shillings and pence rather than nobles.

According to an historical document asking the diocese for extra monies, 20 nobles was scarcely enough to run the parish church of St Peter and St Paul for a year (St Peter and St Paul – A brief history – Church of England Bishops Hull Taunton).

The octagonal tower is also said to represent a weaver’s shuttle and may have been paid for by weavers in the parish.

*Is the “mansion” Hope House?

The mansion could be Hope House because Hope House fronts directly onto the highway and therefore the tenement referred to can only fit behind it, as described. The house has to be at the front (ór in old English) of the tenement or land as described in the Will and, with no land to the front of Hope House, this would fit the description. However there is no indication that the tenement itself is actually included in the will.

Chyd or Churchyard Payment

This is a common item at the beginning of many wills and it is for the payment of a priest to officiate and say a prayer for the deceased at the graveside. The fact that payment is being made to Saint Peter and Saint Paul Taunton seems to suggest that is where the intended burial is to take place, even though payments are also made to St John Staplegrove.

Sepulchre and Hye Crosse Payments

These are also relatively common donations in Wills. In John Shattock’s will of 1533 these are being made to the church at Stapulgrove (Staplegrove). They refer to two special church services that are held at Staplegrove and other churches. There are many references in Wills of the time to both sepulchre and “hye crosse” donations, usually amounting to a few pence each.

At St John Staplegrove there were three special services each year at this period in time. These were the High Cross service, the Our Lady Service and the Sepulchre Service, sometimes referred to as the Easter Sepulchre. The Easter Sepulchre Service was to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This was exactly the time of the Reformation when the Church was breaking away from Roman Catholicism and will account for the Our Lady Service.

Sepulchres in churches were a recess in a wall in the north wall of the Chancel where a crucifix and other sacred elements were displayed. They were not tombs. Sometimes they were just a wooden structure and at other times were part of the structural architecture of the building.

The Shattock Sepulchre at Staplegrove

I hope that I am wrong but I don’t believe there is one. The donation of 20 pennies or 1 shilling and 8 pence is not sufficient funds for a stone mason, of the period, to construct and decorate a tomb in the church. In addition there is no mention of one in the structural report related to the Government listed building description which mentions lesser internal memorial wall plaques and details and descriptions of separately listed and protected external chest tombs in the churchyard. There are two of the latter that are regarded as being 16 Century but are unidentifiable because names have been eroded by weather. These are where persons of substance and their families are buried.

References to sepulchre at Staplegrove St John the Evangelist are references to the Easter Sepulchre service; a service that was common in many English churches in the 16 Century.

This is an example of a simple sepulchre at a church at Grendon Northants. At the Easter Sepulchre a crucifix and other sacred elements would be placed in the recess from Maunday Thursday until the service early on the Easter morning. Parishioners would probably stand on guard during this period. No one is buried here.

What was the donation for?

The donations in wills were made to help finance torches, candles and tapers etc that were used to illuminate the sepulchre during the Easter period and also to help with other maintenance costs. The sepulchre would be brightly illuminated day and night with many candles. It was also quite common to donate remains of torches used at funerals for the same purpose. (Richard Scarfe – East Anglias History - pg 103)

Similar donations were made to secure high cross lights in the 16 Century.