PLACE LYETH THE
BODY OF MR JOHN CRUSE CURATE
OF THIS CHURCH AND FIRST
MASTER OF THE NEW SCHOOL
FOUNDED & ENDOWED BY HUGH SQUIRE Esq
OF THE CITY OF LONDON WHO DIED
THE 24 OF MARCH 1691 AND WAS BURIED YE
29 DAY OF THE SAME MONTH 1692
EXIMIA VITAE PIETATE
ET LABORE PASTORALI INDEFESSE(?)
PER VARIOS MORBOS IMMEDICABILES
As can be seen from the photograph below the dates have not been mistranscribed because of course at this time the Julian Calendar was still in use and the New Year did not start until 25th March on the Feast of Assumption. John was therefore buried five days after his death not one year later!I was delighted to receive from Vanessa Goodwin an abstract of John Cruse's will. Sadly, as with so many of our Devon wills, the original was lost when the Exeter Probate Registry was bombed in World War II. Fortunately, however, Olive Moget and Oswyn Murray compiled abstracts of a small number of Devon wills and this particular will is included in their collection which is now preserved at the West Country Studies Library in Exeter. The abstract has enabled me to piece together a few fragments about John's life. Nothing of John's birth or parentage is known, though he is almost certainly descended from the Cruwys family of Cruwys Morchard. John married Sarah Shobrook, the daughter of Humphrey Shobrook. It would appear that Sarah was a widow when they married as the IGI has a record of the marriage of John Cruse and Mrs Sarah Musgrave on 15th December 1683 in South Molton. The IGI has a record of one son, John Cruse, who was baptised on 16th October 1684 and buried the next day on 17th October. Hugh Squier's new school was built and endowed in 1686 so John would only have enjoyed a short tenure as a schoolmaster, and he probably worked at the school until shortly before his death. Hugh Squier's school as it was known was founded as a grammar school. It was amalgamated in 1877 with the Blue Coat Schools and the National Schools to form the South Molton United Schools. We know from the above inscription that John died on 24th March 1691/2 and was buried on 29th March 1692. His widow appears to have married with somewhat indecent haste just six months later as the IGI shows that a Mrs Sarah Cruse married Thomas Easton on 5th October 1692 at South Molton. A transcript of John Cruse's will is given below. It would be interesting to know if the silver flagon is still in use today.
Cruse, John of South Molton, clerk
Date of Will, 18 March 1691
Proved 17 May 1692 by Sarah Cruse
To the ch[urch] of South Molton £15 to be bestowed in a silver flagon for the Communion table, & as for the management & Procurement of the s[ai]d flagon, I leave it to William Arundell, Rector of Filleigh & Lewis Southcombe, Rector of Roseash.
To my uncle John Williams of Lifton or his wife £5.
To John son of William Painter my godson of Lifton £3.
To the eldest son of Robert Williams of Milton Damarel £3.
To Mary sister of Robert Williams (now called as I suppose Makepowder) & to Deborah another sister (now called I suppose Deborah Hill) of the City of Exeter, each 40/-.
To poor of Tawstock 40/- & of South Molton £4.
To some poor families of South Molton £3 to be bestowed by 20/- a year in books called "The whole duty of man", the s[ai]d books to be given to such families as shall be thought fit by Mr Richard Musgrave, my father-in-law Mr Humphry Shobrook & the s[ai]d Mr Lewis Southcombe.
To Elizabeth wife of John Easton of South Molton 30/-.
Residue to my wife Sarah C, whom I make my ex[exutri]x.
Overseers, Mr Richard Musgrave, Mr John Hacche, Mr George Dean & Mr Humphry Shobrook.
(S[igne]d) John Cruse. Seal:-
(W[itnesses]) Nicho[las] Mallarre: John Odam.
Mark of Margaret Mildon.
Inventory 16 May 1692 by Mr Richard Musgrave, Mr Humphry Shobrooke & John Lewes, £732: 13: 5: (Appparel £6, Study of books £20. Furniture &c. Estate in house in South Molton £40, & in another house £50, & in one field £10, & in moiety of two fields £7 & in two fields called Common Moor in South Molton £12.)
Inheritance of a tenem[en]t called Blackpools £150. Debts due by bills, bonds &c £370)