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Cressett genealogy in the 16th and 17th centuries - reliability of sources

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Date: After 1500 to before 1700
Location: Shropshire, Englandmap
Surname/tag: Cressett
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For the Cressett family of Shropshire gentry in the 16th and 17th centuries there are several important sources that need to be assessed for reliability. This free space profile contains material transferred from the profile of Francis Cressett and requires completion and copy editing.


The 1623 Visitation of Shropshire

There are questions about the reliability of the 1623 Visitation of Shropshire, which is a source much relied upon in family history research for the genealogy of the Cressets of Upton Cresset. These questions are debated in various online discussions about that family and its deeper history in the 12th to 16th centuries.[1] Note especially that identities, relationships and dates of the following people may need further investigation: Thomas Cressett, his wife Elizabeth (Cornwall) Cressett, his supposed father Thomas Cressett and mother Joan (Corbet) Cressett, grandfather Robert Cressett and grandmother Christian (Stapleton) Burton. That further investigation could clarify the grandparents and great-grandparents of Francis Cressett (1566 - 1640) but is not covered in this research note.

For convenience, in this note two people named Francis Cressett are distinguished by 'the elder' and 'the younger'. Francis 'the younger' (whose biography appears above) is a son of Francis 'the elder'.

Francis Cressett 'the younger', the father of Margaret Cressett, appears to have been the holder of Cotes (or The Coates) in the Parish of Rushbury at the time of the 1623 Visitation. His half-brother Edward held the manor of Upton Cresset.

It is likely that Francis 'the younger' was the source for the information in the 1623 Visitation about his parents, grandparents and their descendants. His name appears in capitals at the foot of the page containing his genealogy. After 1570 the person whose pedigree was collected by a Visitation was required to sign the original draft and it appears that the name in capitals in the printed 1623 Visitation represents the name of Francis 'the younger'.[2] The part of the Cressett pedigree that can be attributed to Francis 'the younger' should be treated as reliable, although not absolutely conclusive, because it is derived from a person who:

  • was a living source contemporary with the Visitation
  • knew personally many of the people over several generations
  • as a property holder probably had a high degree of understanding of family relationships and the inheritance patterns they entailed.

The 1623 Visitation shows that Francis Cressett 'the elder' married twice. Francis 'the elder' married Katherine Slade and their eldest surviving son was Francis 'the younger'. Pending further research, it is assumed that the second marriage was to Martha Wilford as it seems the eldest surviving son of this marriage, Edward Cressett, inherited the manor of Upton Cresset from a cousin, Richard Cressett, High Sheriff of Shropshire, whose descent is not clear.

A document titled Agreement for suffering a recovery dated 25 October 1608 records land dealings between 18 named parties.[3] The agreement appears to be an attempt to regularise leases and messuages of the manor of Upton Cresset that had been granted by Richard Cresset and his father Robert Cressett over a period of years in the mid-16th century and then by Edward as their successor. The manor having passed to Edward Cressett it may have become necessary to reaffirm or vary the holdings of existing tenants and to provide for inheritance by the Cressetts:

'... after the expiration or surrender of the leases to the use of Edw. Cressett and his male corporeal heirs, remainder to the male corporeal heirs of Fras Cressett, gent., half brother of Edw. Cressett, with remainder to the right heirs of Edw. Cressett forever.'

This passage is useful as it confirms that Francis 'the younger' of Cotes and Edward of Upton were half-brothers, a relationship reported in the 1623 visitation. The entire Agreement is an example of the complexity of tenancies in even a small manor and how from time to time it became necessary to state clearly the relationships between the parties.

The 1917 article by R.C. Purton

[To be completed]

In 1917 the Rev. R.C. Purton published an account of the Cressetts in his 'Holgate and the Cressets', which appeared in Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Natural History Society.[4]

The Cound parish register

[To be completed]

Cound Registers.

COUND is a parish seven miles south-east of Shrewsbury and six north-west of Much Wenlock, in the hundred and rural deanery of Condover, and diocese of Lichfield. The area of the parish is 3,675 acres. The population in 1881 was 477; in 1891, 515.

The Parish Register Abstract, 1831, contains this account of the Cound Registers:- "Cound R., Nos. I, II. Bap., Bur., 1608-1812; Marr., 1608- 1753. No. III. Marr., 1754-1812".

Some entries from an earlier volume, which commenced in 1559, now long since lost, are preserved in the late Mr. George Morris's manuscript "Extracts From Shropshire Registers" in the Free Library, Shrewsbury, and are here given. These entries extend from 1562 to 1608.

The first existing Register Book of Cound begins at 1608, and goes on to 1699. It is a bound parchment volume, and is in fair condition. It measures 18 inches by 6 inches, and contains 27 parchment pages, and from the commencement to 1654 was evidently copied out of an old paper book, which no longer exists.

In 1653, September 22nd, Registers (i.e. Registrars) were to be appointed. The Cound Register commences thus:- "Edward Dod, of Harnedge, gent., was sworn Register for the parish of Cond the 17th day of March, 1654, being chosen by them and allowed by the Justices to continue till further order. First the old Register is transcribed out of the paper booke from the year of our Lord, 1608, till the said year 1654, and soe proceedes". There is a blank page for 1653.

The entries are for the most part in Latin down to 1644. Edward Dod was discharged 1657, and the writing until 1684 becomes very much worse. Volume II continues from 1699 to 1812. It needs rebinding. It measures 37 inches by 7 1/2 inches. The writing is good throughout. There are 43 parchment pages.

Volume III, Register of Marriages in consequence of Lord Hardwicke's Marriage Act, 1754, March 25th. (Marriages to be registered in prescribed form, and witnesses to append their signatures.) The form includes the Banns of Marriage. The volume begins with 1754, and ends 1812. The Register is on paper. A considerable number of the marriages were by licence.

Volume IV contains the Register of Baptisms from 1813 to 1883.

Volume V contains the Burials from 1813 to 1898. These are in consequence of Rose's Act, 52 George III, c. 146.


  1. For example, in this Google Groups forum, accessed 8 May 2019: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!msg/soc.genealogy.medieval/t2vEU_tLLxc/WefL33yiM9UJ
  2. See Ailes, Adrian (2009). "The Development of the Heralds' Visitations in England and Wales 1450–1600". Coat of Arms. 3rd ser. 5: 7–23, cited at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heraldic_visitation, accessed 17 May 2019.
  3. 'Agreement for suffering a recovery.' Shropshire Archives, Document reference 5460/4/2/1, online transcription accessed 4 May 2019. See http://search.shropshirehistory.org.uk/collections/getrecord/CCA_X5460_4_2_1_1/
  4. R.C. Purton (1917) 'Holgate and the Cressets'. Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Natural History Society 4th series, Volume 6, pp. 211-222. Digital copy accessed 9 May 2019 at https://archive.org/details/transactionsofsh4619shro/page/n483

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