Titus Bancroft – Freeman of Inn Holders, City of London.

Freeman of London document

Here is an interesting story about Titus Bancroft, who born in Warley, near Halifax in 1731 from humble beginnings, and went on to become a  a member of the Freeman of Inn Holders in the City of London.

Titus's  baptism record

Titus was baptised on 1st June 1731 at Halifax, the son of Timothy. His mother was possibly a Sarah [nee Holmes] Bancroft although this has cannot be confirmed, as records show two Timothy Bancrofts living and marrying in this area around this time. Timothy was a hand loom weaver, so probably was just able to scratch a living for wife and family, and died on 19th June 1755. The records show him to have been buried in Ovenden, near Halifax

Tim's burial record

Around this time Titus seems to have vanish and  reappears in London when he marries Elizabeth Johnson on 13th August 1758 at St Mathew’s Church, which was on Friday Street London, where he was the Warehouse Keeper for the nearby Bell Inn which was on the same street.

He describes himself as a warehouse keeper at the Bell Inn Friday St. for Russells the Carriers in two trials around this time (Old Bailey Archives), and although the Bell Inn has long since gone, the position of Friday Street today is shown on the following map.

Friday Street - present day

St Mathew's- Friday Street

Titus and Elizabeth went on to have at least nine children between 1759 – 1780, most of whom died as children, with the exception of two daughters Susannah and Elizabeth.
Researching his appointment as a Freeman of Inn Holders for the City of London, the above document shows that he was appointed as a Freeman of the City, through the Company of Innholders on 4th October 1785, for which he had to pay 46 shillings 8 pence, although the Worshipful Company of Innkeepers records show he actually appears for the first time as a Liveryman in 1789 at Friday Street.  This would have been quite normal, and it is still the case to this day that Freemen need to serve some time in that “rank” before progressing to the Livery.  The Freeman of Inn Holders was, in the earliest times, an essential requirement for all who wished to carry on business and prosper in trade within the Square Mile. As a result, the privileges attaching to being a Freeman were eagerly sought, while the duties and obligations of Freemen were faithfully observed.

It is not clear from record when he actually took over the running of the Bell Inn, but this establishment on Friday Street was quite a an important staging post where many coaches would stop over night to rest and stable their horses, and was used by carriers  from all over the country. Before running the Inn, records show he was being in charge of the Inn’s warehouse, presumably where the carrier’s wagons, goods and horses were kept overnight. A poll of the City of London in 1796, shows him as an " Inn Holder on Friday Street" at this time.

 He did eventually move out of the city to Egham in Surrey, where he died in March 1818. He must have prospered because if you look at his will, he had a large estate and also owned property in Eton and Windsor.  Eton College has some documents which are leases for the properties he owned in Eton and which were leased to family members. His will when published in 1818, shows him of a man of some wealth leaving his estate to his two surviving daughters, Susannah, who married George Needham and Elizabeth, who married Richard Breese.

                                      Last Will and Testament of Titus Bancroft

·  I Titus Bancroft of Egham in the County of Surry being of sound mind memory and
understanding (praised be Almighty God for the same) do make and declare this my

last Will and Testament in manner and form following that is to say I give and

bequeath unto my loving wife Elizabeth all that college hold messuage or tenement

situate in Eton Bucks in the possession of George Needham Also all the Interest

or Dividends of five per cent Stock in my name in the Books of the Governor of

the Bank of England to be taken held used and enjoyed by my said Wife as long as

she lives also all the rest and residue and effects of what nature so ever

subject nevertheless to the payment of all such debts as I justly owe at the

time of my death also my funeral expenses and the expenses of proving this my


In case my daughter Susannah Needham Wife of George Needham shall be living at

the time of the death of my Wife (her Mother) I give and bequeath to her two

thirds of the dividend in the Bank at the time of the death of her Mother during her

life for her sole and separate use and benefit not subject to the debts of controul

or engagements of her present or future husband and I also give to her any

interest in the collegehold messuage or tenement in which George Needham the

husband is now in possession after the death of her Mother for her sole use and benefit

not subject to the debts of controul or engagements of her present or future

husband also after the death of my daughter Susannah my will is that two thirds

of my Bank Stock as mentioned above shall be equally transferred to all her

Children then living except one hundred pounds to Titus Bancroft Needham which I

give him more than any other because I was his Godfather and if Titus shall not

be of age at the death of his Mother then his share and the one hundred more

shall remain in the Bank during his apprenticeship and the interest paid him for

necessaries till out of his time.

 Also I give to my daughter Elizabeth Widow of

Richard Breese deceased during her life the Interest of one third of my Stock in

the Bank after the death of my Wife and afterwards transferred to her and at her

death to be transferred to her daughter Elizabeth Bancroft Breese if then alive

but if dead to Susannah Needhams Children then alive in equal shares.

 Also I constitute and appoint William Holgate of Staines Middlesex dealer and James

William Needham of Eton Bucks joint Executors to execute this my last Will and Testament.

Also I give my said Executors each twenty Pounds and hereby revoking and making

void and do declare this to be my last Will and Testament In Witness whereof I have to this 
my last Will contained in one sheet of paper set my hand to the first page and my hand and
 seal to the latter page this twenty third day of August in the Year of our Lord
 one thousand eight hundred and sixteen.

Titus Bancroft

(Attestation Clause)

David Lewis _ William Haines

 Proved at London 10 May 1818

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