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Extracts from the Preston Guilds
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John Mather, 1617
When Mather died in May, 1617, he left five children. His wife had died before him and he desired to be buried as near as possible to her in Leigh churchyard. His will bears the florid signature of Thomas Mort, son and heir of the great Adam. Mather held leases of fields, which he calls the Common Fields and the Great Jayke. One great stand he possessed was for swine meal and for table illumination he boasted a chandler, valued at £3. His total estate of £64 was considerable for a townsman in Astley at this date. Among his many debts was one he owed to the wealthy Henry Traves of Lightoaks in Bedford, set down at 24s. 9d.

The three John Sothern's (or Sothem) 1618
This Astley family, possibly catholic in religion, was vigorous in village life during the whole of the course of the 17th century. Their location is obscure. John Sothem died in 1618 and his heir was likewise John. Other children named were William, George, Thomas, Margaret, Jane and Elizabeth. Margaret had already been given a mare worth 13s. 4d. and this was to be deducted from her divisional share. Sothem wore dagger and girdle, which he valued so much that he left them to his friend, Thomas Jackson. The whole of the estate came to £70. The second John died in 1667 and there succeeded a third John. The younger issue were Margaret, Jane, William, Elizabeth and Ellin. Margaret in that year was the wife of Thomas Holcroft of Culcheth and as her father was brother-in-law of John Urmston of Westleigh such relationship is evidence of catholic affinity. Sothem was able to give a dowry of £73 to his daughter Margaret on her marriage. The second John left estate of £122, while the third, who died in 1701 in a seven-roomed house, left chattels worth £70. John Hindley helped Elizabeth Sothern to take out the bond for his affairs. This family belonged to that sturdy yeoman class and were tenants of either Morley or Peel.

The Straits, 1618
This landmark name derives from its long association with the family of Street, who were the property and general repairers of the old villages, sometimes called plasterers, sometimes joiners. Richard Street died in 1618, with sons John, Thomas and Richard. One daughter, Elizabeth, had married a Hurst and her father gave two shillings to each of her three children ' to be bestowed on some things to go forward with them.í His widow Elizabeth was to have the ground in Coldalhurst for life and then it was to go to Thomas the son for seven years in trust for the son Richard. A bequest of twelve pennies a piece to William, Thomas and Elizabeth, children of his brother evoked the grudge Ďthis done out of my good will not owing them anything.' From the list of his possessions Street was a carpenter by calling. He owned a saw four joists twenty-nine sawn boards, spade shafts, five pieces of joist timber, many fellies or spokes and seventeen pieces of cooper timber. Repair of houses, carts, wheels, tubs and tools brought in a side income which supplemented his husbandry and which together enabled him to leave a modest £45. John the son was plasterer, who died in 1636. He and his wife were both buried the same day. Elizabeth, the daughter who had married a Hurst, received a legacy of £6 from her father, but he viewed her receipt of this with misgivings. When she had taken it from the hands of her brother Thomas it was to be used & only at the vispotion of her mother or some friend as they shall think convenient.'

The south porch of the church, 1619
Adam Mortís eldest son, Thomas was married in 1619 ad on October 21 of that year. An annuity of £60 was settled on the bride, Margaret Smith daughter of yeoman Robert Smith of Little Hulton. This money was to be paid twice yearly on June 24 and December 25 in the south porch of the parish church at Leigh. If any part of this sum remained unpaid for ten days after these feast days, a penalty of £15 was incurred. This settlement deed is one of the rare documents bearing the signature of the great Adam Mort. Margaret outlived her husband by many years and on October 28, 1675 her executor Robert Mort released all money due to her estate under this 1619 deed. Very much later, April 14, 1699, Thomas Mort grandson of Margaret showed the writing to Nathan Mort and Margaret Finch and explained why he thought the arrears had been forgiven.

Estate tenants, 1619
On the day after this annuity grant, October 22, 1619, Adam Mort settled the whole estate and lordship on Thomas Mort, the eldest son and any male issue of the marriage with Margaret Smith. If no son happened to be born, but only daughters, the heir Thomas had power to grant them annuities of £100 or less. Thirty-one tenants of Adam, whose names are set out in an appendix, heard the settlement deed read over to them on December 23, 1619, and signified their agreement to it.

To the Minister at Ellenbrook Chapel, 1623
Thomas Valentine was a well-to-do fustian weaver, able to leave a fortune of £325 and the greater weight of this considerable sum was tied up in his various cloths. What his valuers found in his Astley home on January 18, 1623, is given elsewhere. He lived in a house known locally as John Tyldesleys and there his widow Anne was to live in a part of it assigned to her, while the other part was for his two brothers, John and William. Among the many debts due to him was one from Mr John Chaddock and another owed by old Mr Thomas Gillibrand. Valentine possessed thirteen shillings value of books, but he plied no husbandry, devoting himself entirely to his trade. On Sundays he resorted to Ellenbrook Chapel, since there was no preaching house in Astley and Valentine gave £5 towards the salary of the Minister of Gods Word at Ellenbrook to be put into stock. Almost a third share of his total wealth he gave to the poor, young Thomas Mort, his landlord having the distribution of it.

Thomas Gillibrand, 1623
Thomas made hurried testamentary dispositions only two days before he was buried. He designated two heirlooms of practical use for his 47 year old heir Thomas, a great corn ark in the barn and his long coffer in a bedchamber. He gave a third of his goods to his wife, Margaret who was to follow him in death in less than a month and £80 and the remainder of his goods to his daughters, Ellen and Margaret.

Gillibrandís total estate came to over £162. But much at Peel at this date was under the active control of his son. The father had a value in horses and beasts on Peel fields in this early summer of 1623 of £43 and in wheat and barley from the fertility of its broad compact of arable of over £51. His clothes were distinguished with silver buttons and priced above normal at £5.10s. In the Hall was a clock with bell and chimes; the family used silver spoons and silver plate. Nearby was a mill, a visible sign of Peel's status; in it an ark, picks and a small board. In the cobbled yard were turkeys and hens and on the moat waters geese and ducks. This Thomas had succeeded his father Geoffrey in 1568; he occupied Peel for over fifty-six years and he was grown into senility, when they carried him across the brook platt to his grave at Leigh in June, 1623.

Margaret Gillibrand, 1623
Margaret was married by special licence on March 17 1613, to Thomas Gillibrand of the Peel in Astley. She was his third wife for ten years and died soon after him in 1623. Thomas was her second husband, as she had been married before to a Shakerley and desired by her will to be buried in the trinity or chapel, which belonged to that house in Leigh church. She gave Peter Shakerley, her son, £5 and £3 to Robert, another son and a cow to her daughter, Jane. Another daughter, Bridget was assigned one shilling, which indicated some previous advancement and ten shillings in gold. But her little child inherited a cow, which was to be hired out at the discretion. Margarets personal bequests Lambert Fielding, of Leigh. was a gold ring to her mother, her best ruff to an unnamed daughter, who was a Shakerley, her worst red coat to her maid Margaret and a smock to her daughter, Alice Gillibrand. Then the rest of her goods, after 6s. 8d. for Jane Green, 5s. for John Redbom and a blank amount for Thomas Collier of Shakerley, she gave to her son Francis Attwood and her daughter, Jane. The gaps and omissions in the will are evidence of hasty preparation. following upon the confusion caused by her husbandís death.

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