Author Topic: A few queries on an C18th will  (Read 249 times)

Offline Davedrave

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A few queries on an C18th will
« on: Thursday 06 December 18 09:05 GMT (UK) »
I wonder whether anyone with experience of C18th wills might be able to help.
Christopher Lea died a widower, aged 80, in 1729. He was a yeoman. I know from an estate document that he was also living, not long before, in the estate village and rented a very small farm there.

Christopher had two daughters (Anna-Rececca and Elizabeth) and four sons (Francis, Christopher, William and John) baptised there.
He left one shilling to Anne Lea, daughter in law, widow, £23-12s to daughter Elizabeth, £13-12s each to sons Francis and John, and £4-4s to son in law Richard Heath. (Francis was the oldest son, Richard Heath was a yeoman and the husband of Anna-Rebecca).

My questions are firstly, whether the one shilling left to Ann the widow was a token (in the C19th another will left £1 to a widower son in law when others got £200).

Secondly, this widow was clearly the wife of either Christopher or William. I am therefore assuming as the most likely scenario that both of the sons are now dead but that one did not marry. Reasonable?

Thirdly, Anna-Rebecca gets nothing in her own name. Was it normal to name the husband in a case like this at this time?

Lastly, Francis was executor and was left all the rest of the “cattles and chattels”. There is no specific mention of a farm. Can I assume that father Christopher had already passed the farm on to him? In 1759, when Francis left his will, he was a yeoman and had a farm (which was to be sold to provide for his four children, all under 21).

Sorry this is a bit long,

Dave :)

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Offline Old Bristolian

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Re: A few queries on an C18th will
« Reply #1 on: Thursday 06 December 18 09:48 GMT (UK) »
Hi Dave,

First of all I think you are correct to assume both Christopher and William are dead at the time of the will - it was unusual to omit anyone who might be considered an heir from a will - rather than leave nothing the testator normally bequeathed a shilling or some small amount to make sure the will wasn't contested.

The shilling left to Ann probably meant she was well provided for by her husband, or that Christopher pere and she didn't get along. Regarding Anna-Rebecca, I've certainly seen similar instances where the son-in-law was left a bequest rather than the daughter.

Finally, if the farm was rented from the manor, it would presumably have been conveyed to son Francis by a change to the lease - details should be in the manorial records if they survive,

Steve
Bumstead - London, Suffolk
Plant, Woolnough, Wase, Suffolk
Flexney, Godfrey, Burson, Hobby -  Oxfordshire
Street, Mitchell - Gloucestershire
Horwood, Heale Drew - Bristol
Gibbs, Gait, Noyes, Peters, Padfield, Board, York, Rogers, Horler, Heale, Emery, Clavey, Mogg, - Somerset
Fook, Snell - Devon
M(a)cDonald, Yuell, Gollan, McKenzie - Rosshire
McLennan, Mackintosh - Inverness
Williams, Jones - Angelsey & Caernarvon

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Offline medpat

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Re: A few queries on an C18th will
« Reply #2 on: Thursday 06 December 18 10:10 GMT (UK) »
At this time a married woman owned nothing so even if the daughter had been named anything left to her would belong to her husband.
Lloyd, Paddock, Cooper, Morris, Darby, Rigby, Platt, Armstrong. All based in West Midlands

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Offline Davedrave

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Re: A few queries on an C18th will
« Reply #3 on: Thursday 06 December 18 10:24 GMT (UK) »
Hi Dave,

First of all I think you are correct to assume both Christopher and William are dead at the time of the will - it was unusual to omit anyone who might be considered an heir from a will - rather than leave nothing the testator normally bequeathed a shilling or some small amount to make sure the will wasn't contested.

The shilling left to Ann probably meant she was well provided for by her husband, or that Christopher pere and she didn't get along. Regarding Anna-Rebecca, I've certainly seen similar instances where the son-in-law was left a bequest rather than the daughter.

Finally, if the farm was rented from the manor, it would presumably have been conveyed to son Francis by a change to the lease - details should be in the manorial records if they survive,

Steve

Thanks Steve. It hadn’t occurred to me that a very small legacy might be left to avoid the will being contested due to omission.

As regards the farm, I have definite evidence from the C19th of another family member in the same place both renting land from this estate and owning a farm in a neighbouring parish in his own right, and have assumed that Christopher did the same. I was hoping that his will would have mentioned the location of his farm, but unfortunately not. Presumably the fact that he refers to himself as “yeoman” means that he owned some land of his own. Certainly when son Francis left his will in 1759 he states that his farm was at Higham on the Hill (which is a nearby parish), but Francis was clearly still connected with the estate village of Shenton, where he was buried and his eldest son carried on farming. This son had no land of his own because his father’s lands were sold off, but he did become a fairly wealthy individual and the largest estate tenant. It was the son of Christopher’s son John who is documented as both renting from the same estate and owning his own farm (which actually adjoined the land he rented).

Dave :)

Offline Davedrave

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Re: A few queries on an C18th will
« Reply #4 on: Thursday 06 December 18 10:41 GMT (UK) »
At this time a married woman owned nothing so even if the daughter had been named anything left to her would belong to her husband.

Thanks, I did think that might be the case. So presumably a married woman only tended to exist in own right in a financial sense once she became a widow?

Offline Maiden Stone

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Re: A few queries on an C18th will
« Reply #5 on: Friday 07 December 18 01:02 GMT (UK) »
At this time a married woman owned nothing so even if the daughter had been named anything left to her would belong to her husband.

Thanks, I did think that might be the case. So presumably a married woman only tended to exist in own right in a financial sense once she became a widow?

Look up Married Woman's Property Act 1870 and Married Woman's Property Act 1882 for information.
A married woman had no rights regarding her children either.

Offline Maiden Stone

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Re: A few queries on an C18th will
« Reply #6 on: Friday 07 December 18 01:59 GMT (UK) »

As regards the farm, I have definite evidence from the C19th of another family member in the same place both renting land from this estate and owning a farm in a neighbouring parish in his own right, and have assumed that Christopher did the same. I was hoping that his will would have mentioned the location of his farm, but unfortunately not. Presumably the fact that he refers to himself as “yeoman” means that he owned some land of his own.

It doesn't necessarily mean that Christopher senior owned land. He may have leased property. A yeoman had certain rights and responsibilities. It would depend on the laws and customs pertaining to that time and place. There were lifetime leases, leases for 3 lives, leases for a set number of years. A lease for 3 lives named the 3 individuals in the lease document; 2nd and 3rd named, if they survived their predecessor, would take on the lease in their turn. There may be surviving documents among manorial records.
 One set of my yeomen ancestors were farmers, the others were innkeepers - the inn had land plus a cottage. There's a document about enclosing land from "the waste" behind the inn.  (They were the families who were forever marrying their cousins and sisters-in-law as I related on another thread.) I have wills of some of them. They left leases to their eldest son, or a daughter if they had no surviving son. One farmer owned a few acres in addition to land he leased and his own land is itemised in his will. The farmers and the innkeepers left "the cottage before the door" for the use of their widow "so long as she remain in chaste widowhood".

Main legatees of 2 wills were married daughters. One testator made it clear what was to happen if his daughter predeceased her husband. The husband was gamekeeper at the manor. A few years after his father-in-law's death his occupation was "gentleman". I assume his increase in status was due to his wife's inheritance.

Offline Old Bristolian

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Re: A few queries on an C18th will
« Reply #7 on: Friday 07 December 18 10:16 GMT (UK) »
Just a further point on the use of Yeoman - although it implies the ownership of land, I've several examples in my own tree of men who described themselves as such but were certainly only leaseholders, albeit on copyhold leases of several lives. I think the strict demarcation between yeoman and husbandman declined from c1700 onwards, and yeoman became standard usage for a farmer of any type, as opposed to a smallholder who only had an acre or two,

Steve
Bumstead - London, Suffolk
Plant, Woolnough, Wase, Suffolk
Flexney, Godfrey, Burson, Hobby -  Oxfordshire
Street, Mitchell - Gloucestershire
Horwood, Heale Drew - Bristol
Gibbs, Gait, Noyes, Peters, Padfield, Board, York, Rogers, Horler, Heale, Emery, Clavey, Mogg, - Somerset
Fook, Snell - Devon
M(a)cDonald, Yuell, Gollan, McKenzie - Rosshire
McLennan, Mackintosh - Inverness
Williams, Jones - Angelsey & Caernarvon

Offline Maiden Stone

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Re: A few queries on an C18th will
« Reply #8 on: Friday 07 December 18 16:00 GMT (UK) »
Different types of landholdings and laws relating to them are described on University of Nottingham website. Look under heading "Deeds in Depth". Sub-headings include Freehold land, Copyhold land, Leasehold land, Lease and release. A married woman's property rights are explained in the section "Freehold land".
https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/manuscriptsandspecialcollections/researchguidance/introduction.aspx