Will of Roger Davies 1580

"One half of my cheese, all the salt and a potl of butter"

By David Miller

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Will of Roger Davies 1580' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Will of Roger Davies 1580' page

This is one of the earliest wills in our collection, and unfortunately some of it is difficult to read. It looks as if it was written by James Stanley, one of the people who witnessed it.

The word 'come' is a measure of corn, and is still just about in use today. It is two sacks, and two combes (pronounced 'koombs') i.e. four sacks, makes a quarter (of a ton.)  A sack of wheat weighed 18 stone, and of barley 16 stone, so a ton of wheat would be heavier than a ton of barley.  But at the time, everybody knew that!  Oats were a lot lighter.

Saint Ellin (or Ellen) must have been Saint Helen, but there were two Saint Helens, one of them being St. Helena of Constantinople, and the other St. Helen of Caernarfon. See Wikipaedia for further details. It is interesting to speculate whether our testator was Welsh, having regard to his name, and to the name Gryffths which also appears in the will, and which are both common Welsh names. Welsh sheep drovers could well have come to Orwell, having regard to the major industry of East Anglia being sheep at the time. Sheep were kept in Orwell, but not, so far as is known, in any great numbers.


In the name of god amen. The 23rd day of September in the yeare of the lorde god 1580. I Roger Davies of Orwell in the Countie of Cambridge clerccke, being sicke in bodye, but whole in mynde and in perfect remembrance, prayse be given to thee almightye god, doe now constitute and macke this my laste wyll and testament in maner and forme following first I bequeathe my soule to Jesu chryste, through faithe in whom I hope undoubtedly to be saved, and my bodye to be buried in the chancell of Orwell. Item I give to the poore people of Orwell 13 shillings to be distributed unto them equally upon the first Sondaye in lent Item I give unto the poore people of ?????  ?? 8d to be geven them the second sondaye in lent, next after my deathe.  Item I geve to every godchild I have 12d. Item I geve & bequeathe to my father foure pounds, whereof 40 shillings to be payd him at the feast of the purification of our ladye next after my deathe, and the other 40 shillings to be payde that daye twelve months. Item I geve to ?Griffythes floode my brother, to John Flood, to Wyllyam, and to Thomas my Brother, to eche off them 11 shillings. Item I geve to my sisters Jane and Elizabethe to ether of them 10s. all ?whereof to my ?brthre and sisters to be payde within a yeare after my deathe, Item I bequeathe unto my wife all suche goods as I received of her by marriage, upon condition, that she shall acquite and discharge  my ???? ???? ???? John and wyllyam Barton of all such parts and  portions as shall be due unto them when they shall come unto age, by the death of theyr father Edmund Barton late of Orwell disceased. Item I bequeath unto my wife 3 quarters of barley to be delivered her at the feaste of ye purification of our ladye next after my deathe whereof I wyll that three comes be good feed barly, and the other three comes good maltingye corne Item I bequeathe unto her one ?shete and three pigges of the best at her choice Item I ???? and bequeathe unto my wyfe a halfe acker of Rye lying in church path ?field Item I bequeath to my sonne in law John Barton my ?least joined bedstead a paire of sheetes, to ewes and to lambs to be ???? and ???? within a monthe after my discease. Item I give and bequeath to ???? Barton my square table my too joined stooles belonging thereunto 1 brasse ????, two of my best platters a pylow with a pylowbeere, too ewes and to lambes, to be delyvered at St Ellens Day next after my discease. Item ??? in money to be payd her ?mothr at the feaste of the purification of our ladye next after my discease. Item I geve and bequeath to ????? Holder my god daughter on ewe lamb takd ?payd upon St. Ellins day next after my death, and that to be on of my best lambs. Item I give and bequeath to my aforesaid sonne Wyllym Barton half a ?dozen ?podengers, and half a dozen tablenapkins, ?with ???? my name thereon sewed Item I wyll that my wife have the wintering that year of two ??? / the on half of my cheese/ all the salt and a potl of butter/ 2 busshells of wheate, and two of ?maslend/

 Item I constitute ??  ???? superviser? Of this my last wyll to see the sayme in ech part performed and fulfilled giving him for his pains tacking therein 20s. Item that all the rest of my goodes not geve nor bequeathed, my debtes being payde and my legacies discharged , I wholly geve to Randall flood and Edward flood my brethren, who I ????  ???? and macke my executors of this my last wyll and testament to see full filled and performed in every behalf

                                                                ?? ?? Davyes

Thes being witnesses      )     Thomas ?Meead

                                    )    James ?Stanley

                                    )     Harry Holland

This page was added by David Miller on 16/02/2015.

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