In the name of God Amen, the 17th day of July AD 1574, I John LEVESON of Wolverhampton in the County of Staffs Esquire whole of mind and in good health, God be praised, do make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner and form following. First I bequeath my soul to Almighty God beseeching him of his great mercy to have compassion of me so that I may be one of his saved wretches which he redeemed with his most precious blood in the which is my only hope and trust. ITEM; I have one messuage and certain lands and tithes in Stratton within the said County of Staffs rented by year at 4 pounds which I have set in fee form to one John Howton to his heirs and assigns for ever they paying the said 4 pounds every year at two terms as appears to the hands of the churchwardens of Wolverhampton and to their successor wardens to the use and behest as follows: that is to say I bequeath to the reparations of the said church of Wolverhampton 26 shillings and 8 pence (xxx) to be paid yearly at two terms as appears, and I give and bequeath to 78 of the poorest householders in Wolverhampton and to other poor people there within the same town whereas most need shall be 8 pence apiece forever. And specially to such as have dwelled long in the town and have laboured (sore) for their living, and I will that the said four pounds shall be paid to the said wardens and to their successor wardens at two terms in the year, to wit, at our Lady Day in March and St Michael the Archangel by the portions as appears by the indenture of fee form, and the said wardens to repay the same 4 pounds. I trust as aforesaid 26 shillings and 8 pence to the reparations of the said church yearly forever. And the rest which is four marks which four marks to be distributed by the said wardens upon every Good Friday to the said 78 persons at 8 pence a piece and to every of them to give neither more or less than 8 pence apiece, and I bequeath to the said two wardens and to their successors 8 pence apiece for ever for their pains which sums above makes it into four pounds, and I will that my son Thomas LEVESONNE and his heirs shall nominate and appoint the names of all the said poor people in writing of them that have most need of the said 8 pence as aforesaid, and the bill being so made to deliver it to the said wardens and they to pay it to the poor and to the use of the church as aforesaid. And then the said bill to be delivered again to my said son and to his heirs provided always that this my gift and bequest of the said 4 pounds or any part thereof be not well and truly observed and kept that then I will that the said 4 pounds shall revert over again to my said son T: Levesonne and to his heirs forever so that neither my said son T: Levesonne nor his heirs nor the said churchwardens nor their successors wardens do not let nor hinder the payment of the said 4 pounds nor no part thereof or do any act to be hurtful against this my gift to the church and to the poor aforesaid. ITEM; I bequeath to my daughter STAMFORD four good kine, 3 quarters of barley, one quarter of wheat, one silver salter gilt with…(missing page?) ITEM; because my said son Thomas Levesonne shall be well and the better able to perform this my last will I give and bequeath to him and to his heirs all the rent of Little Worley which is ten pounds by year (declared) saving all such gifts as I have given unto Thomas Corey and others as appeareth. ITEM; I will that there shall be provided a tomb for me if I do it not myself in my lifetime. ITEM; Whereas I have certain land in Walsole, Darlastone and Wednesburie the which I may sell give and put away at my will and pleasure so that now I am content to give and bequeath to my said son Thomas Leveson my land in Walsole and Darlastone and Finchpath Hill to him and to his heirs, and also all my copyhold lands in Wednesburie with all the commodities and profits thereto belonging and all my freehold lands except the coal mines with like commodities and profits to my son Thomas Leveson and his heirs – except all coal mines those I give to my son John during his life, provided otherwise that if I do give or sell all or any of those lands in those four towns hereafter then this gift and bequest to stand as void and of no effect so much as I do sell. ITEM; I bequeath to John Justice one of my cast doublets, a pair of old hose, a pair of shoes, and I will that my said son T: Leveson shall maintain the said Justice and Nicholas Mills in work like as I have done they be poor men and well in age so that it is a good deed. ITEM; whereas I have given amongst other to William Wainwright 6 shillings and 8 pence during his life to be paid him yearly as appeareth before in this will nevertheless now I call to remembrance that he gives his mind and does use to play at unlawful games and further does use much to go to tippling houses and at unlawful hours which is like to bring him to extreme poverty without amendment, wherefore my will is that within short space after my decease my executor shall call the said William before him having two honest men present and then he to have warning to leave such unthriftiness, and if he will not take this friendly warning but will use it still as aforesaid then I will that my gift to him before named shall be void and of no effect. Note that whereas I have before bequeathed to Thomas Cowper aforesaid four marks a year during his life now my will is that John Marshe shall take him as a covenant servant for certain years, and he to give him meat, drink and apparel and to teach him his occupation of a shoemaker and he to have 20 shillings a year during his years and the other 33 shillings and 4 pence shall remain to the use and profit of the said Thomas Cowper to be delivered him at the end of his years and the said 3 3 shillings and 4 pence to be in the keeping of the said John Marsh his Master.
Proved 7th February 1575