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Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Fingringhoe Wills (5): Transactions 'New Series' Volume 20 Part 1

{Part 5}

In conclusion, we may briefly notice the bequests of goods and chattels, which are such an interesting feature in early wills owing to the particularity with which they are often recorded.  Furniture, domestic utensils, articles of clothing and so forth are named separately. For instance, John Feryer (1504) left to his godson, "a Spruse Cofyr," a feather bed and a pair of sheets, etc., a brass pot, four dishes and six platters; John Hankyn (1506) left to one of his sons, a "shottable," a fireplace and a stone mortar; Thomas Harry (1507) left to his son his best gown, a spruse cover, a brass pot, three platters, two dishes and a saucer. While the bequests of other testators included a kettle and brass pot, a table, a coverlet, pewter and brass, twenty timber trees, etc.

Dealing as we are with the effects of country folk, articles of silver are rarely specified, but Agnes Hankyn (1505) possessed a girdle harnessed with silver and two silver rings; and Joan Cole (1508) had two, and Gonor Dorell (1513) six silver spoons; the latter also owned a mazer bowl.

As might be expected in a river-side parish, boats are mentioned from time to time. John Hankyn (1506) left two fishing boats to one of his sons; Richard Hankyn (1515) left his best boat to his wife; and Robert Graye (1542), mariner, also left a boat to his wife. The Hankyns and Graye probably belonged to the well-known Harwich seafaring families of those names.

Agricultural products were a frequent form of bequest, and these tend to show that in the sixteenth century a good many of the parishioners were small holders.  To take some typical examples: Edmund Sowthow (1513) left to his wife and children, a seam of wheat each, also one of barley and one of oats; Alice Hankyn (1505) left four hens and a cock and a young hog; John Hankyn (1506) left to his wife, son and daughter , ten beasts and thirty sheep each, to another son, six oxen, two horses and thirty sheep, and to his sister, his  bees; Thomas Harry (1507) left to his wife a cow, and to his son, his horse and sheep; James Mounte (1508) left "a bullock, which beareth the bell," and a horse and saddle, and to his wife four kine and four calves; Giles Cocke (1540) left to two of his sons, ten "lawfull shepe" each; and John Woode (1543) left to his wife, twenty ewes and two beasts, and to his three daughters, two sheep each, and two lambs. Sheep seem to have been more numerous than any other stock, partly, no doubt, because free pasture was available for them on the common lands.

A few of the place-names in the following abstracts have continued in use down to the present day; references to these, and to others which are now obsolete, will be found in the footnotes.

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