William Potter was rector of Hartley from 1541 to 1566, and so would been rector through the reigns and changing religious policy of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary and Elizabeth. It is possible his sympathies were more catholic than protestant, for he leaves his soul to God, St Mary and the Saints, when a protestant at the time would usually leave their soul to God only, and he does not mention having married. He told Edward VI's commissioners in 1552 that the best church goods had been stolen sometime after 1549, but elsewhere missing goods of this sort often suddenly reappear in catholic Mary's reign. He is notable for leaving 4 pence to each one "man, woman and child". This was about a day's wage for a farm labourer, and would have been enough to buy 4 pounds of bread and 4 pints of beer.
Will of William Potter, Rector of Hartley (1566)
Reference: Centre for Kentish Studies DRb/Pwr/13.232
In the year of our Lord God 1564, and in the sixth yar of the reign of our Sovereign Lady, Elizabeth by the grace of God Queen of England etc, and the 20th day of October. I William Potter, priest and parson of Hartley in the county of Kent and in the diocese of Rochester, being whole and of good memory, thanks be given to God, do ordain and make this my last will and testament in manner and form following:
First I bequeath my soul to Almighty God our blessed lady St Mary and to the company of heaven, and my body to be buried in quire of the parish church of Hartley, if it shall please Almighty God that I die within that parish. Also I bequeath to the reparations of the said church of Hartley, 20 shillings. Item: I bequeath to Robert Potter my brother, £6 13s 4d. Item: I bequeath to the children of the said Robert, 20 shillings lawful money of England, equally to be divided amongst them. Item: I bequeath to Ellen Potter, my brother Thomas his daughter, £6 13s 4d. Item I bequeath to the residue of her brethren and sisters, £20 equally to be divided amongst them. Item: I bequeath to Joan Langley, some time my servant, 20 shillings. Item: I bequeath to Dorothy Cook, 20 shillings. Item: I bequeath to Edmund Parker, priest of Dartford, my best [..... (photocopy faded here)...] with russet. Item: I bequeath to every one of my parishioners of Hartley, man, woman and child, 4 pence. Item: I bequeath to William Herde, parson of Facam (Fawkham), my best sarsnett tippet (silk part of a hood) and my best cap. Item: I bequeath to the poor people of Ash, 6 shillings 8 pence. Item: I bequeath to poor people of Longfield, 3 shillings 4 pence. Item: I bequeath to Martin Hoggerde, priest and vicar of Meopham, my frise gown. Item: I bequeath to mother Northashe, a quarter of barley or ten shillings in money which she will. Item: I bequeath to William Wheatley of Dartford, 3 shillings 4 pence. The residue of all my goods and chattels not bequeathed nor given, I bequeath and give to William Northashe whom I ordain and make my sole executor. And Edmonde Parker, priest of Dartford, and William Herde, priest and parson of Fawkham to be mine overseers of this my last will and testament.
Witnesses of this my last will and testament by me William Potter of Hartley, by me Edmonde Parker, priest of Dartford, by me William Whetley of Dartford, by me William Herde, rector of Fawkham.
Proved at Rochester, 24 April 1566