After my last few words on old family history research which referred to Wills made in the days of the quill pen, I have been able to ‘decipher’ a Will of 1743, made by Joseph RAYNER the Elder. (1667-1747). Now this was one that had scanned and printed very well and was quite readable. The problems to overcome are the fine turn of phrase used by the lawyers of the day and words spelling that were in use before the great lexicologist Samuel Johnson ‘rewrote’ the English language.
What I was looking for in the Wills was family names to ensure that I was constructing families correctly in my Brothers Keeper program. It worked out very well in more ways than one, initially, I got his sons and daughters and had to presume that they were in the Will because they were still alive. But, surprise – surprise, he stated that his daughter Rachael was ‘my late daughter Rachel CHURCH’. So I might now be able to find out when she died. Usually, names of the dead relatives were not easy to identify, especially when they had married and left ‘home’. Many children died in infancy in the old days and there was rarely sufficient details to place them within the right family.
This Joseph RAYNER was unable to read and write and so his lawyers knew what he wanted and made the Will ‘watertight’. As you can see below in the Will, it is full of ‘aforesaid’, ‘hereunto’ and so on. In his Will I found that the writer ensured that what he left for his daughter Ann KEMPTON, was going to stay in her hands, by making sure her husband John KEMPTON could not use her inheritance in any way to pay off his debts. Seeing this, in a time when a woman lost control of her ‘rights’ in marriage was quite a surprise. If I get more Wills fully ‘deciphered’ perhaps I will add them in a later blog with any surprises that I find in them.
Joseph the Elder listed all his properties, tenements and farm details in his Will and who was renting them at the time he made his Will. It all makes interesting reading. I hope you find it as interesting as I did.
Will of Joseph RAYNER, the Elder.
In the name of GOD, Amen, I Joseph RAYNER ~ the Elder, of Halstead in the County of Essex, yeoman, being in health of body and of sound and disposing mind, memory and understanding (thanks to Almighty God for the same) Do make and ordain this my last Will and testament in manner and form following. First, I commend my soul into the hands of Almighty God, my creator, hoping for pardon of all my sins through the merits of my Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and my body I commit to the earth to be decently buried at the discretion of my Executor hereinafter named and as to my worldly estate, wherewith it has pleased God to bestow upon me, I dispose thereof as follows. (That is to say) First I give, devise and bequeath unto my son Joseph RAYNER and his heirs and assigns for ever. All those three copyhold houses or tenements with the yards ~ gardens and appurtenances thereunto respectively belonging situate lying and being in ~ Halstead aforesaid and now in the several occupations of Giles SPARK, ? NASH and Mark WHEELER or some or one of their assignee or assigns. Also I give devise and bequeath unto my son Robert RAYNER and his heirs and assigns forever ~ All those two copyhold houses or tenements with the yards, gardens and appurtenances thereunto respectively belonging situate lying and being in Halstead aforesaid now or last in the several occupations of Thomas PARMINTER and John HUM or one of them, their or all their assignee or assigns ~ Also I give devise and bequeath all that my house or tenement with a shop thereto lately built together with the yards, gardens and appurtenances thereunto belonging situate, lying and being in Halstead aforesaid in a lane there called Hedingham Lane over against the sign of the Crown, now in the occupation of Thomas RAYNER, my son ~ unto the said Thomas RAYNER and Susan his wife and their assigns for and during the term of their natural lives and the life of the longer liver of them and immediately from and after the decease of the survivor of them the said Thomas RAYNER and Susan his wife, I give devise and bequeath the said last mentioned promises unto and amongst all and every of the children of the said Thomas RAYNER on the body of the said Susan his wife lawfully begotten or to be begotten that shall be living at the time of the decease of the survivor of them the said Thomas RAYNER and Susan his wife and to their heirs respectively equally to be divided between them and their heirs, share and share alike, as tenants in common and not as joint tenants. Also I give devise and bequeath unto my sons Joseph RAYNER and William RAYNER all that my house or tenement with the yards, gardens and appurtenances thereunto belonging situate lying and being in Hedingham Lane aforesaid and no or(?) none to the last mentioned promises and now in the tenure or occupation of John JOHNSON the Elder, or his assigns to hold unto the said Joseph RAYNER and William RAYNER and their heirs during the life of my daughter Ann KEMPTON the wife of John KEMPTON of Great Maplestead in the said County of Essex, yeoman, in Trust that they the said Joseph RAYNER and William RAYNER and their heirs shall and do receive and take the rents, issues and profits of the said last mentioned permissions during the life of my said daughter Ann KEMPTON and that they the said Joseph RAYNER and William RAYNER, their heirs and assigns shall and do pass and dispose of the same as they shall be received unto and for the sole proper (to next page) Each page is signed with the ‘mark of Joseph RAYNER the Elder’
And separate use and advantage of the said Ann KEMPTON exclusive of the said John KEMPTON her husband into her own proper hands or into the hands of such person or persons as she shall by any writing under her own hand notwithstanding her (overhere (?) direct or appoint and for which this receipt or acquittance of the said Ann KEMPTON or such person or persons as shall appoint notwithstanding her (overhere) shall from time to time be a sufficient discharge and over which the said John KEMPTON or his assigns shall not have any power nor shall intermeddle therewith nor shall the same be liable to his debt, acts or dispositions in any wiser. And from and after the decease of my said daughter Ann KEMPTON. I do hereby give, divise and bequeath the said last mentioned promises with the appurtenances unto the said John KEMPTON, her son and heirs and assigns for ever. Also I give and bequeath unto Joseph RAYNER, my son, all my term of years and interest of and in this farm which I now occupy to go by him ‘entered’ upon at the Michaelmas next after my decease on condition that the said Joseph, my son, shall during the then remainder of the said term which shall then to come unexpired do all the repairs according to and in pursuance of the Covenant which are in the Lease under which I now hold the same and performing and keeping all other the Covenants showing mentioned. Also I give and bequeath unto the three children of my late daughter Rachael CHURCH (that is to say) Rachael, Hannah and William CHURCH the sum of ten pounds equally to be divided between share and share alike and to be paid to them respectively within one year xxxx after my decease. And also I give and bequeath unto my said sons William RAYNER and Joseph RAYNER all my houses, mares, colts, cows, rent and tilth of land, corn, ploughs, waggons, tumbrels, harrows and any other my stock of husbandry on my aforesaid farm and all my goods, chattels, and personal estate whatsoever and whosoever to be by them sold for the best price or prices that can or may be gotten for the same and the money thereby arising to be by them applied towards payment of the aforesaid legacies herein before by me given and requested and all my just debts ‘hunen (?)’ charges and the probate of this my Will and the over plus (if any shall be) I will shall be equally divided between my said sons, Thomas RAYNER, William RAYNER, Joseph RAYNER and Robert RAYNER and my said daughter Ann KEMPTON, share and share alike. And lastly, I do hereby nominate, constitute and appoint my said sons William RAYNER and Joseph RAYNER executors of this my last Will and Testament and I do hereby revoke all former Wills and bequests by me at any time heretofore made and do declare this to be my last in Witness whereas I the said Joseph RAYNER the Elder, have to this my last Will and Testament contained in two sheets of paper. Set my seal to the label that associates them together and my hand to the first sheet and my hand and seal to the last sheet. This one and twentieth day of October in the seventeenth year of the reign of our sovereign Lord, George the Second by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France and Scotland, King Defender of the Faith, as in the Year of our Lord One Thousand and Seven Hundred and Forty Three.
Signed Sealed, published and Declared by the said Joseph RAYNER, the Testator, as and for his Last Will and Testament in the names of us and by us attested in his presence :
Ino: Tho: BAYNES and