Upper Middling Examples

James Wathen

You were a very wealthy pinmaker in the lively city of Bristol.  

Throughout your life, you gained substantial positions of office, which included being churchwarden for the large and impressive parish of St Mary Redcliffe.

In your time in the parish, you bought many items for the church, even donating an inscribed brass lectern—quite an ostentatious gift and a display of largesse!

Nonetheless, you never quite made it to a coat of arms, and your lifestyle is certainly circumscribed by your work.  Even so, you ended up very wealthy, and spent some time concerned with your “legacy” (what will you do with your money after you leave, and to whom/what institutions will you establish donations?).  Already, you own a pinmaking empire that employs poor boys in the craft—a charitable precedent to continue after death, perhaps.

Jane Ratcliffe (née Brerewood)

You were born to a citizen skinner of Chester, John Brerewood and Mary Parrey of Flintshire. Your family was on the rise in the late sixteenth century, and so despite your father being a middling tradesman, your brother went onto become a ‘Sir’ and academic.

You married John Ratcliffe, a widower and brewer, and this was a very advantageous match as he became mayor of Chester (twice) and an MP. You were memorialised in a funeral sermon by Chester minister John Ley which was published in London in 1640, where you were held up as an example for ‘the edification of the living’ due to the godly life you turned to under the tutelage of Nicholas Byfield, another minister.

You were described as a very devout puritan, whilst also coming from one of the most prominent families in Chester, and her personal devotional practices mediated between her puritanical beliefs and conformity to the Church of England; and in this way you carved your own path. You were also a businesswoman who took over your husband’s brewing business after his death and so continued to forge a prosperous path throughout your life.

You also had at least two children: your son John became MP in 1646 and your daughter moved to London for marriage. You died on a visit to see your daughter in 1638, which shows that you also travelled far from your home in Chester when the occasion demanded. You were of upper middling status by the time of your death and were perceived as a good example to other women by Ley, something which you may have been aware of and taken pride in during your life.

Inventory: Edward Kitchen, Alderman [member of local council] of Chester (1619)

This inventory indented maketh mecion of all & singular the goodes chattells rights creddites & debts which late were of Edward Kitchen deceased whilest he lived an alderman of the citty of Chester as they were seen vallewed and appraised by Charles Fitton Alderman, John Leech mercer, Charles Leech inholder and John Maddock tanner cittizens of the said citty upon the fifteenth daie of February Anno Domini 1619 the particulars whereof hereafter ensue that is to say […]

Imprimis in the hall one table and a frame                                         Xs

Item one chaier                                                                                   Vs

                                                                                    Sum                 XVs

In the little chamber next the street

Item one halfe headed bedsteede                                                        Vis VIIId

Item one square table & frame                                                           IIIIs

Item a downe bed one boulster and one pillow                                  IIIIli

Item four wheeles                                                                               Vis VIIId

Item fourteene barrels of suckett weying XLVIIIli VIoz                   XLVIIIs

Item five boxes of marmalade wayinge XVli XIoz                           XVIIs Vid

Item one chest with candles in it                                                        Xs

Item four paier of yerwingle blades and two feete                             IIs

Item one pewter still                                                                           Vis VIIId

Item three boxes                                                                                 XVIIId

Item eighteene pounde of hempe and IIli di of flax                           VIIIs

Item one hetchell                                                                                Vid

Item one pott with VIII quarts of honny in it                                     Vis 8d

Item one close tubbe with oat meale in it                                           Vs

Item one stoole and two basketts                                                        Vid

Item two shelves                                                                                 VIIId

                                                                        Sum                 Xli  XIXs IIIId

In the parlour

Item one standing bedsteed with curtens and vallens                        Vli

Item one featherbed                                                                            Vli

Item one flockbed                                                                               Vis VIIId

Item two blankets and one caddowe                                                  XIIIs IIIId

Item one coveringe                                                                             Xs

Item three pillows                                                                               XIIs

Item one Boulster                                                                               Vis 8d

Item one paier of vallens of needleworke                                          IIIli

Item three needleworke borders for court cubbords                           Xs

Item one press cubbord                                                                       Vis 8d

Item one court cubbord & a border cloth                                           Vs

Item one grate of Iron                                                                         Xs

Item two tables with frames                                                               XXs

Item one forme                                                                                   IIIs IIIId

Item three ymbrodered cushins                                                          XIIIs 4d

Item three guilte cushins                                                                    Vs

Item five sett cushions of Thrums                                                      Xs

Item six greene cushions                                                                    Vis

Item two greene carpets                                                                      XXs

Item six buffin stooles                                                                        Vis

Item eight ioyned stooles                                                                    VIIIs

Item one lookinge glasse                                                                    Vs

Item one map and five pictures                                                          Vs

Item one cloth of needleworke for a buttery doore                            XIId

                                                                        Some               XXIIli XIs IId


In the closett

Item boords and shelues                                                                     IIIs 4d

Item two boxes with locks                                                                  IIs

Item Bookes worth                                                                             XLs

Item gallery potts glasse bottles and aquavite                                                Vs

Item aleas of two cottages & a garden in the white

fryers lane taken from Thomas Parsivall vallewed at                        XIIIli

Item a leas of a farme in Wymballs Trafford made

for yeres vallewed at                                                                           VIXXli

Item the leas of a farme in churton made for yeres                            IIIIXXli

Item a leas for yeres oof two fields in whitbee                                  XXVIli XIIIIs 4d

Item in sackcloth and other Manchester stuff                                    XXXVs

Item a peece of woollen kersey of XVIIIen yards                               XLs

Item a paier of gold waightes                                                             IIs

                                                                                    Sum                 CCXLVIli IIIs IId


In Plate

Item XVIII spoones waying XXIX oz di                                           VIIli VIIs Vid

Item a guilt salt wayinge XIXoz & a di                                             IIIIli CVIIs IId

Item four guilt cups & a trencher salt waying XXXoz                      VIIli Xs

Item two beakers & a standing bowle waying XXXI oz di               IIIIli XVIIs Vid

Item one standing bowle one aquavite cup & a taster

Which doe way altogether XV ounces & a quarter                            IIIli XVIs

Item a little oversey cup with a sliver foote                                       VI 8d

Item a suger box with a spoone                                                          XIId

Item a shell of mother of pearle                                                         IIIs

                                                                                    Sum                 XXXIli XIXs IIId

The testators wearinge apparrell        

Item ten night caps                                                                 XXs

Item shirts, bands, & handkerchers                                        XLs

Item tabletts jerkins breechs & stockens                                VIIli Xs

Item five gownes that is a violet one a black one

faced with satten one with foynes & ii night gownes            VIli XIIIs 4d

Item one foote cloth                                                                IIIs 4d

Item one coveringe for a bed                                                  Vs

Item two oulde carpets                                                           Vs

                                                                        Sum     XVIIli IIIs IIIId