Will of Edmund Barnard 1575

What do you give if you have no money?

By David Miller

Photo:Edmund Barnard 1575 page 1.

Edmund Barnard 1575 page 1.

Photo:Page 2

Page 2


Either Edmund Barnard was not a believer in having money around - after all, where could you keep it? - or he lived in one of those periods, fairly common in Tudor times, where there was a general shortage of coinage, due partly to the demands of increased trade, and partly to the fact that the coinage would be melted down if its bullion value exceeded its face value. Henry the Eighth had several times debased the coinage by melting it all down and re-issuing it with a lower gold or silver content, and in the fifty years before Edmund's death there had been many other manipulations of the currency, always with a view to profit accruing to the Crown. He could not be blamed for dispensing with coinage altogether. 

Whatever his reasons, the only mention of money in his Will was the 6/8d (half a mark) which he left to the poor of Orwell.  A gift to the poor is common in the wills of the 16th century, but less common in wills of later times. It was considered a godly thing to remember the poor, especially at the time of your death, and a gift might possibly shorten your period in purgatory.  The testator thought it was worth a try, anyway. Observe that the Will says the money is to be paid 'upon the day of my funerall.'  Saint Peter please note.

The net result is that we have a list of Edmund's possessions that he intends to dispose of.  A sack of wheat weighed 18 stone, as much as a strong farm worker could carry, especially if he has to take it up a ladder! Two such sacks make a coomb, and four sacks make a quarter, i.e. quarter of a ton.  Barley is a little lighter, at 16 stone a sack.

If only we could read everything in the Will!  The older the writing, the more difficult it is to read, and the Probate Court clerks not only scrawled hurriedly, but they made extensive use of abbreviations which are far from obvious today. If you can read all this will, you can rightly feel that you have really got a grip on Tudor handwriting.

There is an extensive Barnard family tree at http://www.geni.com/list/index?focus_id=6000000007386189740


In the name of god amen the first of November in the yeare of our Lordgod 1575 I Edmund Barnard of Orwell in the Countie of Cambridge and Diocese (of) Elyie ?within? Cambridgeshire being sicke in body and whole of mynde and in perfect remembrance (th)anks and prayse be to Almightye God Doe Ordayne and constitute this my last will and testament in manner and forme following that is to say – first I bequeath my soule to Allmightye god my maker and redeemer and my bodye to be buried in the churchyard of Orwell aforesaid Item I give and bequeath to the poore people of this towne ?six shillings? eight pence to be distributed unto them upon the day of my funeral Item I give and bequeath unto Robert Barnard my youngest sonne two of my best horses two of my beste Oxenne the best Cowe an ?steer? of two years of ayge and calfe of one year and the best carte with cart geare ?for it farm horse Tenne Quarters of malte three quarters of wheate and four Quarters of Barlie the ?which? wheate and Barlie to be paid the one halfe out of the crope that is in the barn and the other halfe out of the crope that is in the field Item I give to Robert Barnard my said sonne the one halffe of all my saffron grounde the Cubbord that is in my chamber the great ?hutch? the Bedsted that I lye upon with all the beding belonging unto the said Bede one great pott one great panne all my pewter and all my lynnen except one paire of shettes being next the beste thereof paire I give to Aynnie Arthur my daughter Item I give to Edward Arthur my sonn in law two Quarters of Barlie and one combe of wheat and to other of his ?choice ????? ewe ?shepe Item I give and bequeath to John Barnard my sonne Tenne Quarters of Barlie whereof five to be paid out of the croppe that is in the Barne and five out of the next croppe and three quarters of wheate to be paid out of the next croppe Item I geve to Edward Barnard Barnaby Barnard George Barnard and to Marye Barnard the childin of John Barnard to ether of them one combe of Barlie to be paid within one yeare after my decease Item I geve and bequeath to William ?rutterforth? my sonne in ?law? two quarters of Barlie and one combe of wheate and to ?Alice? Rutterforth his daughter one ?ewe sheepe? Item I give and bequeath to William ?Dowe? my servant one Combe and one quarter of barlie Item I give to Thomas ?Dowe? and ?Willim? ?????? my ?partners to ether of them one combe of Barlie and one Ewe sheepe Item I give to Joane ?phepper? to ???? ???? and to ?????? more to either of them one bushel of malte Item I make nycholas Buttler and Robert Addams supervisers of this my last wills and testament so to see the same fulfilled in Everye behalffe ?????? to either of them for their paynes taken thereine one Coombe of barlie the Residue of my goode not gevene or bequeathed my Debtes being payd and my legacies dischargid I ?withal? geve to ????? Barnard my eldest sonne whom I make my sole Executor of this my last will and testament these being witnesses Roger Davies Nycholas Buttler Richard Adames and Nycholas Caldecott


PROBATE granted 1577


This page was added by David Miller on 24/04/2013.

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