John Onley and Jane Pontesbury

John Onley was of Shropshire but was also listed as of "Onley Catesby," Northamptonshire, England (according to visitations of Northamptonshire in 1564). He was the son of Sir Robert Onley, according to the entry for his son John in the History of Parliament. John married Jane Pontesbury. Jane was of Albrighton, Shropshire, England and was the daughter of Thomas Pontesbury and Elizabeth Grafton. Jane married second Robert Pigot. Jane was mentioned in her son John's will as "Jane Pigott, my mother." John and Jane were buried at Withington, Shropshire, England (according to the History of Parliament).

John and Jane’s children are:

  1. John Onley, probably born at Withington, Shropshire, England, married 1) Jane Smith (dau. of Henry Smith of Sherwood or Sherbourne, Warwickshire, England) and 2) Elizabeth (alive in 1536, m. 1) William Whitlok, 2) Thomas Lee, and 3) Robert Wade, will dated 28 Jun 1554 and probated 11 Aug 1556), was of Catesby, Northamptonshire and London, educated at the New Inn, admitted to the Inner Temple 25 Oct 1514, Master of Revels at the Inner Temple 1515, auditor 1527-8, attendant on reader 1529, 1532, and 1536-7, Lent reader 1530, common serjeant at London 2 Apr 153017 Mar 1533, under sheriff 17 Mar 1533 to his death, commissioner tenths of spiritualities 1535, solicitor of the court of augmentations 24 Apr 1536 to his death, Member of Parliament 1536, died 22 Nov 1537 (see the History of Parliament), will dated 15 Nov 1537 and proved 16 May 1538, asked to be buried at St. John Zachary, London, Middlesex, England.
  2. Robert Onley, mentioned in his brother John's will.
  3. Adam Onley, mentioned in his brother John's will.
  4. Elizabeth Onley, married Thomas Pigott (of Chetwynd, Shropshire, England), mentioned in her brother John's will as "my sister Pigott."
  5. Mary Onley, married Sir George Cotton (b. abt. 1505 in Coton, Shropshire, England to John and Cecily (Mainwaring) Cotton, brother of Sir Richard Cotton below, Sheriff of Denbighshire, an esquire to the body of Henry VIII, granted Sir George the estate at Combermere (a former abbey) in Shropshire 3 February 1541/2 by the king, knighted by the king in or before 1542, also granted the manor of Wilkesley in Cheshire 3 Apr 1542 and the manor of Pulton in Cheshire 19 Aug 1543, d. 25 Mar 1545 at Combermere, Shropshire, England), mentioned in her brother John's will as "my sister, Mary Cotton," died 14 Mar 1559/60 at Combermere, Shropshire, England.
  6. Probably Jane Onley, married Sir Richard Cotton (of Bedhampton, Hampshire and Warbington, Southampton, England, son of John and Cecily (Mainwaring) Cotton, brother of Sir George Cotton above).
  7. Unidentified children, depicted on John and Jane's monumental brass. There were seven sons and three or four daughters depicted on the brass (the actual brass for the daughters was lost before 1795 but according to a sketch in the Shropshire Archives, the outline remains). It seems then that there are four sons in addition to the ones listed above and possibly another daughter.


  1. Stephenson, Mill, Monumental brasses in Shropshire, London: Harrison, 1895, pgs. 99-101 (with image insert between pgs. 98 and 99), found online at: (retrieved 10 June 2017).

Records related to John and Jane (Pontesbury) Onley but not copied below due to copyright considerations:

  1. Boyer, Carl, Medieval English Ancestors of Robert Abell, Santa Clarita, CA: C. Boyer, 2001.
  2. Will of John Oneley, Gentleman, The National Archives of the UK (TNA): PROB 11/27/241.
  3. Will of Elizabeth Onley, Widow of Saint John Zachary, City of London, The National Archives of the UK (TNA):PROB 11/38/89.
  4. Entry for ONLEY, John (by 1498-1537), of London and Catesby, Northants, The History of Parliament,, retrieved 8 Jun 2017, originally published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982.

Monumental Brass

Monumental brass for John and Joan Onley

John Onley, 1512, and wife Joan.

John Onley, son and heir of Sir Robert Onley, of the town of Coventry, is represented bare-headed with long hair, his armour consists of a plate gorget, a breast-plate strengthened with demi-placcates, pauldrons of a curious shape, small coutes, gauntlets with shell backs and peaked
cuffs, short skirt of taces with mail fringe, over which are strapped the tuiles, large knee pieces with plates behind, jambs and round-toed sabbatons with rowel spurs. The sword is suspended diagonally in front of the body from a narrow belt once inlaid with colour. There is no  misericorde. The left arm of the figure is broken away.

His wife Joan is represented slightly turned to the right, she wears the kennel-shaped head-dress with plain lappets, a close-fitting overgown cut square at the neck, showing the finely plaited partlet and undergown below, the cuffs are large and edged with fur, whilst the long skirt is gathered up under the left arm.

Below the figures is a three-line black letter inscription :
Hic iacet Johes onley filius et heres dni roberti onley
milit civitat covente qui obiit XIXmo die mens Junii Ao dni
millmo CCCCCXII et iohna ux ei quor aiab ppicie de ae

Below the inscription there were on the original slab a group of seven sons in civil dress under the father (these still remain); and under the mother the indent of a group of three or four daughters (the latter were lost before 1795).

At the four corners of the slab were originally shields of arms (the upper dexter was lost before 1795); the upper sinister (now placed under the brass of Adam Graffton) bears —
Quarterly I. and IV. or, three piles gu., on a canton of the second a pierced mullet of the first.      ONLEY. II and III. . . . three stirrups 2 and 1. . . The lower dexter bears the arms of the TOWN OF COVENTRY — Per pale gu. and vert an elephant, on his hack a tower triple towered or. The lower sinister (now lost) bore — . . . a bend between six birds.

In the British Museum (Add. MSS. 21, 23G, fol. 109) is a sketch of this brass taken June 6, 1794, showing it in its original slab then in the nave. Some years ago the church was rebuilt, the brass taken from its slab; this disappeared and the brass itself was for some time in the custody of a neighbouring rector. It is now nailed on the north wall of the tower in a somewhat irregular fashion.

The figures are 22˝ inches in height.

This brass possesses considerable interest in that it is the work of a "local" or Warwickshire school of engravers, most probably settled in the town of Coventry. Compare the figure at Harley.

Source: Stephenson, Mill, Monumental brasses in Shropshire, London: Harrison, 1895, pgs. 99-101 (with image insert between pgs. 98 and 99), found online at: (retrieved 10 June 2017).

For a drawing showing the brass as originally arranged (including the place where the daughters were), see:

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Author: Michelle A. Boyd


Last updated 17 June 2017