Will of John Beale 1735

This Will was not proved in common form because the Executrix departed this life before she had taken on the burthen thereof

Photo:Probate copy

Probate copy

Photo:page 2

page 2

 JOHN BEALE 1735  


Commentary on the Will of John Beale 1735.

This is a “Probate Copy,” that is to say a written copy of a will which the Probate Court made and kept for its records.  It is not the original document signed by John Beale.

The handwriting  is very easy to read (not always the case for Probate Court copies) and the Will starts with a clause stating that the Testator’s mind and memory are sound, this being  intended to prevent any disputes after his death as to his capacity to make a Will.  He then continues by giving his soul back to God and his body to the earth from whence it came, and expresses his belief that it will be resurrected at the Day of Judgement.  All this is standard form for most wills of the period, with some occasional variations in the detail.  A Roman Catholic, for instance, might have expressed his wishes differently, by commending his soul to the care of Mary and all the Saints, or something of the kind.

We do not know where John Beale lived, but the Will tells us that the house had some five roods of land with it (just over an acre) and was formerly the property of one Stoakes.  This would have been sufficient to identify it in the Rolls of the Manor Court. Beale also had other pieces of land “late Stoakes,” which perhaps indicates that John Beale inherited this land from the Stoakes family.  It would not have been from his Wife’s family, because her maiden name was Howard.  The Court Rolls might provide the answer.

Note the gift of a nominal shilling to each of his four children, and his grandson.  This, again, was to prevent disputes arising after his death, so as to prevent any allegations that in leaving everything to his Wife, he had forgotten about the rest of his family.  One sometimes finds in a Will that a testator’s child is “cut off with a shilling,” which marks the strong disapproval of that child’s conduct by its parent, but it is not likely to be the case here, where all the children are treated in this way.

John’s Wife Ann is also appointed Executrix, and he clearly sets out her duties and responsibilities as such.  Note too the names of the witnesses  –  all of them are well known old Orwell names.  See also the archaic form of handwriting in the double ‘r’ of Merry.  The rest of the script is in modern form and is easy to read, but the older the Will, the more difficult the writing is likely to be, and this form of the letter ‘r’ is from the archaic Secretary Hand.

John Beale died in 1737, and Ann Beale died shortly after her husband, and so was unable to prove the Will.  This was done by her Executor, who was Henry Lilly, daughter Mary’s husband.



This page was added by David Miller on 29/08/2012.

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