The Gascoignes of Thorp-on-the-Hill
William Gascoigne was the eldest son of Henry Gascoigne of Thorp–on–the–Hill near Middleton, in the parish of Rothwell. By the time of William’s birth, Henry was living in comfortable circumstances, but at its outset, Henry’s life had been scarred by tragedy. In 1589, aged only three, he became an orphan. In accordance with the dying wishes of their father, he and his sister, Elizabeth, were put into the care of their wealthy uncle, Richard Tempest of Tong. In the Tempest household near Bradford brother and sister spent their early childhood years together, but by the time Henry was 12 they were separated as his custody and wardship was made over to his future father-in-law, William Cartwright of York. An unsettling transfer—some would consider it heartless—but this was seventeenth century England: the wardship of such a minor was a commodity to be competed for. Sometimes it would be granted by the Court of Wards to a complete outsider, simply the highest bidder, keen to gain income and advantage from the orphan’s assets. Not until 1611 would the law be changed to ensure that the next of kin had a prior right to the wardship.