Ephraim Cotgrave’s parents must have been religious people. Their children were all given Biblical names – he had brothers called Benjamin, Manasses and Thomas, while his sisters were Candace and Abigail. Between them, they were named after one of the apostles, an Old Testament Queen, King David’s wife, two sons of one of the Bible’s most important characters, and one of the Tribes of Israel.
But if he learned Christian values from his parents, when Ephraim and his father fell out, they did not forgive and forget.
Ephraim was the son of a reasonably well-off farmer from Cheshire called Ralph. He is first mentioned in his grandmother’s will in 1605, when he must have been a baby. Jane Cotgreave of Guilden Sutton left him and his brother Thomas “the table and the frame standing in the house.
By his twenties, he had moved to London, where he married Bridget Badger at St Michael’s Church, Paternoster Square in the City of London, in 1630. It appears she was also from a religious family because when her father (a gentleman called John Badger) died, he asked a a friend who was a Doctor of Divinity (the noted puritan William Gouge) to “counsel and advise” her.
In the 1640s, when Parliament forced people to make loans to fund its war against the King, Ephraim and Bridget Cotgrave were repeatedly made to find large amounts of money and he was twice threatened with prison if he failed to pay. But they must have been sympathetic to the Parliamentary cause, because from 1646 (after which only Royalists were forced to loan money), the harassment stopped.
This was the period when Ephraim’s father died, and in a long and rambling will, which left various legacies to his children, Ralph wrote simply that Ephraim should get: “20 shillings more to the portion I have given him already which one way and another he has cost me above two hundred marks (over £130) as a full discharge and bear to him that he shall have no right title claim or interest to any lands, goods, chattles, cattle or any other thing that is or was mine whatsoever”. Whatever had happened, Ralph was not in the mood for turning the other cheek!
In 1651, while Bridget’s father’s estate was still being settled (he had been dead seven years), the couple gave evidence in court and Ephraim was described as being a grocer of the parish of St Paul’s Bennet Wharf. In 1658, he sold a house and stable in Whitechapel for £100. By this time, he had made enough money to be described as a gentleman.
Ephraim Cotgrave died in 1667, by which time he and Bridget had moved to Kingston upon Thames. They seem never to have mad children. Ephraim left legacies to his siblings Abigail and Thomas; the others had died before him. Bridget died at Kingston in 1672.
Cheshire Archives and Local Studies: WS Jane Cotgreave 1605; WC Ralph Cotgrave 1646.
London Metropolitan Archives: MS 5142; DW/PA/5/1667/24.
National Archives: PROB11/192; C103/174; C24/749.
Calendar of the Proceedings of the Committee for the Advance of Money (1888).
Society of Genealogists: SR/R33, p.66.