The earliest known Moxons of Cawthorne

The following is an extract from Chapter One of the booklet “Charles Mokeson of Cawthorne and his Dynasty” by Alice Joan Rendall and John Moxon Hill published by the Moxon Family Research Trust. To buy a copy see the Moxon Society Bookshop page for details.

We know little about our earliest, traceable ancestor, Charles Mokeson of Cawthorne in Yorkshire, apart from what is told by his will, written and proved in 1592. The first book of Cawthorne Parish Registers (cl588 to 1653) are missing. Between 1600 and 1653, only 23 years of Bishop’s Transcripts have survived.

The transcript of Charles’ will reads:

In the name of God.  The 28th day of August Anno Domini 1592. I Charles Mokeson of the parish of Cawthorne in the diocese of York being sick in body but not withstanding of good and perfect remembrance, praise be God for the same, do make this my last will and testament in manner and form following. First and principally I commend my soul into the hands of God Almighty to have remission of my sins through the merits of Christ who died for me and shed his blood upon the cross to wash away my crimes and I commit my body to the earth from whence it came in sure and certain hope of resurrection to a better life at the latter day of the Lord. And concerning such portion of worldly goods as the Lord God has endowed me with, first I will that my debts be paid and discharged out of my whole goods and then the rest of my goods after it Anne my wife have her third part out of the same and that my funeral charges and expenses be paid and discharged. I give and bequeath unto John Mokeson, William Mokeson, George Mokeson, Edith Mokeson, Mary Mokeson and Anne Mokeson my children to be equally divided amongst them. Item. I commit the tuition of all my said children unto the said Anne my wife together with their portions during their nonage. Item. I make the said Anne my wife executrix of this my last will and testament. These being witnesses: Lawrence Mokeson, Thomas Oxley and William Mokeson. [Grant of probate follows, dated 8 November 1592. 
Transcribed by Joan Rendall in 1986.

So, on 28th August 1592, Charles’ wife, was named Anne, and his children were John, William, George, Edith, Mary and Anne, and all in their nonage – i.e. not yet adults. We do not know if the William Mokeson who witnessed Charles’ will was his son, William, or another “William Mokeson”. If the son witnessed the will, it would have been highly irregular, because he was to benefit from the Will. The first witness, Lawrence, is mentioned below.

It seems likely that Charles was in his early forties when he made his will, ill, and knowing that he was dying. Probate was granted on 8th November, so he could well have died in September or early October.

He probably died of disease, since two other “Mokesons” also died around the same time.

Francis Mokeson of Cawthome made his will on 13th October 1592, and this was proved on 21st December. The wording is very similar to that of Charles’ will. He left a wife, Elizabeth, and two children, Francis and Dorothy, in their “nonage”. It would appear that Francis, too, was in his late 30’s or early 40’s. We know no more of either of the children.

Lawrence Mokeson, did not make a will, but there is a record of the administration of his estate. The Borthwick Institute has provided the following transcript from their records:

“On 21 December 1592 administration of the goods of Laurence Mokeson late of Cawthome deceased, was granted to Robert Clough of Norwood. An inventory was exhibited.” The Borthwick went on to explain that rarely before 1690 did inventories concerned with administrations survive.

Here we have three Mokesons, living in or near the small village of Cawthome, all dying in September/October 1592, and all of them still relatively young. Surely the result of some terrible disease?

Were they brothers? Or, just cousins?

There are earlier mentions of Mokesons in Cawthorne, but “connecting” them to each other is impossible, unless new facts are discovered:

Robert Mokeson and his wife, Margaret, of Cawthorne, paid their Poll Tax in 1379. “Robertus Mokeson et Margareta uxor e jus. 4d”. This was in the early days of the reign of Richard II, and it was this tax which precipitated the “Peasants Revolt” of 1381.