The name “Agecroft” can be found in records dating to the 1370s. It was originally owned by the Langley family, who had lived in Lancashire for several generations. In the mid 16th century, Robert Langley, who owned Agecroft, divided up his property, as he had no sons to inherit the property. His daughter Ann inherited the house and about one thousand acres of property. Between 1563 and 1570, Ann married William Dauntesey from Wiltshire, and the name Dauntesey is the one associated with the house for the rest of the time it was in England.
In this series of activities, we are talking about life at Agecroft during the 1630s. During this time, Agecroft had been inherited from the first William Dauntesey, who died in 1622, by his son William Dauntesey. The second William Dauntesey had married Katherine Crompton in 1613, so they were prepared to take over the management of Agecroft. William and Katherine had eight children, but sadly William died in 1637.
Much of the information we know about Agecroft at this time comes from the probate records filed upon William’s death. We know a little bit about the servants of Agecroft from these records. For example, we see that William Dauntesey owed “Ellin Burch his servant” 13 shillings, 4 pence at the time of his death. Another servant, William Walkden, was included in the will as being owed 2 pounds, nineteen shillings. Day laborers- servants who did odd jobs around the manor- were also included in the will. A man name Smythe was to be paid 11 shillings, eight pence for “worke done”. Unfortunately, we do not have more information about most of the servants listed in William Dauntesey’s will, but even just having their names brings the past of Agecroft to life.
The Dauntesey family, their servants and the tenants who worked on the property will be the focus of our discussions today. Because the records are somewhat sparse, we will have to fill in a few blanks in their day-to-day life with more general information. We will also be using pictures of our living history staff, who portray the inhabitants of Agecroft at this time.