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Wills

Will of Berkeley Seymour, written 1744, proved 1744


The National Archives, Kew, PROB 11/735 Minimal punctuation added for clarity. All capitalization and spelling is as in the original In the Name of God Amen This is the Last Will and Testament of me Berkeley Seymour of Bitton in the County of Gloucester, Esquire. In the first place I recommend my Soul to the hands of Almighty God, and my Body I commit to the Earth to be decently Interred at the discretion of my Executrix hereinafter named. Item I order and direct that all my Debts which I shall owe at the time of my decease be in the first place fully paid and satisfied out of my Estate. Item I do hereby Give Devise and Bequeath All that my Freehold Lease of the Mannor and Parsonage of Bitton with all Lands, Tenements, Hereditaments and Appurtenances thereunto belonging held by three Lives and all and every my Real Estate whatsoever and wheresoever and also all and singular my Personal Estate of what nature or kindsoever the same is or shall be at the time of my decease unto my Dear Sister Jane Seymour her Heirs, Executors, Administrators and Assigns to her and their own proper use, benefit and behoof forever. And I do hereby constitute and appointmy said dear Sister Sole Executrix of this my will. And Lastly I do hereby revoke all former or other wills by me at any time heretofore made and this only do I Establish as my last Will and Testament In Testimony whereof I have hereunto Set my Hand and Seal the first day of June in the year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Forty four. Berkeley Seymour / Signed, Sealed, Published and Declared by the said Testator Berkeley Seymour as and for his last Will and Testament in the presence of us who have hereunto Severally Subscribed our Hands as Witnesses hereto in his sight and Presence and at his request. Tho. Slaughter, E. Bowles. John Atwood.

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This Will was Proved at London before the Worshipfull Charles Pinfold, Doctor of Laws, Surrogate to the Right Worshipfull John Bettesworth, Doctor of Laws, Master Keeper or Commissary of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, lawfully constituted, the Fifth day of October in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Forty four by the Oath of Jane Seymour, Spinster, the Sister of the deceased and Sole Executrix named in the said Will To whom Administration was granted of all and Singular the Goods, Chattels and Credits of the said deceased, being first sword duly to Administer.

Family Life in England and America, 16901820

Will of Jane Seymour, written 1762, proved 1770


The National Archives, Kew, PROB 11/959 Minimal punctuation added for clarity. All capitalization and spelling (except niece which was consistently written neice in the original) is as in the original In the Name of God Amen I Jane Seymour of the Parish of Woodford in the County of Essex do make and ordain this my Last Will and Testament in the manner and form following. I desire thtat my Body may be decently and privately buried in the Churchyard of the said Parish of Woodford in the Morning that my Coffin be covered with white Cloth and that no Bell be told till about half an hour before my Burial and as for my Temporal Estate I Give devise and dispose thereof as follows. I Give and bequeath to my Niece Jana Maria Seymour three Guineas. I Give to my Niece Margaret Bradshaw three Guineas. I Give to my Niece Christian Seymour, daughter of my Nephew Bowles Seymour, one Shilling. I give to my Nephew Berkeley Seymour one Shilling. I Give to my Nephew Phineas Seymour the Picture of my Brother. I Give to the Reverend James Altham Rector of Woodford aforesaid Five Guineas after my debts and Funeral Expenses are paid all the Rest and residue and remainder of my Estate real and Personal whatsoever and wheresoever I Give devise and bequeath to my Niece Esther Seymour and I do hereby Constitute and appoint my said Niece Ester Seymour whole and Sole Executrix of this my Last Will. In Witness whereof I the said Jane Seymour have set my hand and Seal hereby revoking all former wills this twentieth day of September One thousand Seven hundred and Sixty two. The Mark of Jane Seymour. Signed, Sealed, Published and declared by the said Testatrix Jane Seymour as and for her Last Will and Testament in the Presence of us who have Subscribed our Names as Witnesses thereto in the Presence of the said Testatrix. Eliz Dod. J. A. Hainsby. Pierce Dod.

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On the Fourth day of July in the year of our Lord one Thousand Seven hundred and Seventy administration (with the will annexed) of the Goods, Chattels and Credits of Jane Seymour late of the Parish of Woodford in the County of Essex, Spinster, deceased was granted to Berkeley Seymour and Margaret Bradshaw, widow, the natural and Lawfull Brother and Sister and two of the next of kin of Ester Seymour, Spinster, a Lunatich the Niece of the said deceased, Sole Executrix and Residuary Legatee named in the said Will for the use and benefit of the said Ester Seymour and during her Lunacy having been First sworn duly to administer.

Wills 3

Annotation
The wills of Berkeley and Jane Seymour, the son and daughter of John Seymour, governor of Maryland (1704-1709) and Margaret Bowles, demonstrate several patterns of eighteenth-century family life, particularly about unmarried and childless persons views on inheritance. First, like nearly twenty percent of their cohort, neither sibling married nor had children, meaning their views of inheritance differed from those with spouses and children.1 High rates of never-married adults coupled with the thirty to forty percent of children who did not live to see their tenth birthday, made planning for future generations and inheritance a complicated matter.2 When their father was appointed governor of Maryland, his three surviving children ( John, Berkeley, and Jane) were adults and they remained in England. Berkeley inherited the Bitton Parsonage when his step-mother died in 1730.3 If he had had legitimate sons, the parsonage would have easily passed to one of them, but in their absence he, like many unmarried people, considered lateral kin instead of lineal kin. As their sister had died young and their brother John was married and settled, Berkeley passed his possessions to the person most vulnerable to the vicissitudes of financial survival: his single sister. Jane made a similar decision, but as nearly twenty years had passed by the time she wrote her will, she focused her efforts on her nieces and nephews favoring, again, the unmarried women. Jana Maria and Esther Seymour and Margaret Bradshaw, who were sisters, were in their 50s or 60s when they eventually inherited from their aunt. Jana Maria Seymour was christened 6 July 1702 in Oxford and Esther Seymour was christened 4 June 1717.4 Margaret Seymour married Peregrine Bradshaw on 22 December 1739 in St. Andrew, Plymouth, Devon.5 By the time their aunt died, Jana Maria was unmarried, Margaret was a widow, and Esther might have already been showing signs of mental instability explaining why they received much larger bequests than the men, or younger (and presumably marriageable) women like Christian, who was only nineteen when her great aunt wrote her will.6 Unmarried people often left bequests to other unmarried siblings, particularly sisters, and unmarried women often left legacies to nieces (particularly unmarried ones) in an effort to ameliorate a property and inheritance tradition that disadvantaged women.7 Notes
1. Amy Froide, Never Married: Singlewomen in Early Modern England, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005). 2. Peter Laslett, The World We Have Lost: England Before the Industrial Age, third edition (New York: Scribner, 1984), pp. 11112. 3. H.T. Ellacombe, The History of the Parish of Bitton, in the County of Gloucester, (Exeter: privately printed, William Pollard, 1881), pp. 8790; A. Baine, History of Kingswood Forest Including All the Ancient Manors and Villages in the Neighborhood, (London: William F. Mack, Bristol, 1891).

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Family Life in England and America, 16901820

4. Jana Maria Seymour, daughter of John Seymour, christened 6 July 1702, Church of England, St. Giles, Oxford, Oxfordshire Parish Registers, 16811958, FHL British Film 887486; Esther Seymour, daughter of Dr. John and Mrs. Elizabeth Seymour, christened 4 June 1717, Church of England, Charles Church, Plymouth, Devon, index and images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/KC9X465 : accessed 1 December 2012). Other children of John Seymour christened in St. Giles, Oxford: John Seymour christened 7 March 1700; Bowles Seymour, christened 21 October 1707; Berkeley Seymour christened 2 June 1709. Other children of John and Elizabeth Seymour christened in Charles Church, Plymouth: Phineas Seymour, christened 1 January 1719. 5. Arthur Broomfield, Parish Registers for St. Andrew, Plymouth, Devonshire, England: Marriage 16181720, 17281744/5, (1961), Family History Library British Film 823684, item 6. 6. Church of England, St. Winnow, Cornwall, England Parish Registers, 16221812, FHL British Film 908076.Seymour, daughter of Bowles and Martha Seymour, christened 27 September 1743. 7. Amy Louise Erickson, Women and Property in Early Modern England, (London and New York: Routledge, 1993).

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