Owing to the fortuitous survival of various parish registers and wills I have managed to trace, with good certainty, one of my lines of ancestry back to one Margaret Bowyer who was born in approximately 1530. She was married to William Ford of the Mosse, Staffordshire, and when he died in 1584 his will notes several "brethren-in-law": William Boyer, George Boyer, and Thomas Boyer. The will of Thomas Bowyer of Stonelowe, Staffordshire in 1596 notes his sister Margaret Ford. Her brother William Bowyer, it appears, was an MP for Stafford, and his will proved in 1602, though it does not mention Margaret, does mention his sister Ellen Dorrington and some of his brothers. Margaret died in 1610 leaving a will.
These facts corroborate the evidence given in sixteenth and seventeenth century visitations. The Bowyers, these visitations suggest, had quite the illustrious pedigree being descended from the Knypersleys and Breretons. The Staffordshire visitations of 1583 (shown below) and 1614 support that Margaret Bowyer was the daughter of John Bowyer of Knypersley by Elizabeth Bucknall his second wife:
Apart from these visitations, I cannot locate any contemporaneous sources that verify that Margaret and her siblings were children of John Bowyer and Elizabeth Bucknall. The 1583 visitation was, of course, created during Margaret's lifetime, so one would hope that it is accurate with regard to her parentage, but the visitations are renowned for being a mixture of fiction and fact. The parish registers and wills are scarce by the period of interest. I cannot locate a will for John Bowyer, and he appears to have died before parish registers began (although I can find no verifiable date as to when he died). What sources – ideally primary or contempory sources – can be used to verify or refute that Margaret was the daughter of John and Elizabeth?