Will of William Addams 1676

"I give to my son William Addams my twelve nights of folding"

By David Miller

Photo:William Adams' original Will. Note that William could write his name, but Christopher could only manage a letter 'C.'  To enlarge the Will, click Control and + together.

William Adams' original Will. Note that William could write his name, but Christopher could only manage a letter 'C.' To enlarge the Will, click Control and + together.


This Will should be considered in conjunction with that of William's Wife Elizabeth, who died in 1680. Between the two wills, it is possible to study how provision was made for the family, which consisted of four boys: Robert; William; Thomas; and John. Three of them were young - William was aged ten when his mother died and Thomas and John were younger. The responsibility for bringing them up was placed upon Robert, who must have been born around 1660, although the date was not recorded. William, of course, had the added concern of providing for his Wife, although as it turned out, she only outlived him for four years.

William gave his Wife all his copyhold land for her life. A life interest was the usual way of providing for the wife in Orwell at the time. He did not say what was to happen to the land after her death, but it would be normal for such land to revert to the hands of the lord of the manor, and then for it to be re-granted to William's heir, who would be the eldest son Robert.

Robert was also given the land which his grandfather had owned (area unknown but possibly seven acres). It is likely that, as heir, he would also get the house where the testator lived, after his Mother's death.

Son William was to get a house and some land, while the other two boys were to have six acres each. The right of 'folding' refers to the right to put one's livestock out on common land so that they might feed there.

 There is some 'variable' spelling in this Will, especially concerning the name of the Testator.  However, it was considered unimaginative and dull to use the same spelling all the way through such a document, in just the same way as we today try to avoid using the same word twice within a few sentences. Lawyers might have disagreed with this, as they might today, on the footing that if you use a different spelling, you are probably talking about a different person. There is no scope for uncertainty in this will, however.

There are a number of field names worth noting here, although it is impossible to be sure that they have been transcribed correctly. It looks as if the Will was written by John Wootton.

Transcript of the Will of Willium Addams, 1676

In the name of God Amen.

The 23rd day of October in the year of our Lord 1676 I willium Addams of Orwell being sick in body but of perfect Memory praise be god for it doo Make and ordayne this my last will and testament in Manner and forme as followeth

First I give and bequeath my soule into the hands of almightie god my Creator and his son Jesus Christ my Redeemer by whose Merrit I hope for salvation and my body to be decently buryed with in the church Yard of orwell and for those temperall goods that god hath endowed me with all I shall dispose of them as followeth Item First I make Elizabeth Adams my deare wife my sole excerutrice of all my coppy hold lands and teniments with all the appurtenances thereunto belonging for the Terme of her bodylye life and no longer Item I give unto my son Robert Jeanen (Johnson?) of that Land that was given me by my grandfather Robert Addams; I give unto my son William the tenement which was givern mee by my deare Father Robert Adams with all the appurtenances there unto belonging I also give unto my son willium six acres of argable Land in ?dach? feild two acres, Item I give unto my son Thomas Addam six acres of Land with all the appurtenances thereunto belonging; Item I give unto my son John Addams six acres of Lands with all the appurtenances belonging to it. Item I give unto my son William Addams my twelve nights of folding And my will is that my son Robert shall for his ?seaven? acres of land have the acre of land in white furrowes the two halfe acres in broad grasse one acre at Callis townes end and one half acre against hadlitch way next unto William Swan land and one halfe acre in ote [oat] Land and two halfe acres in small ?merides? and three halfe acres at Malton ? balte? And a halfe acre against ?balte?, and my will is that he shall have my acre of free Land that is halfe an acre in ?over whortpath? and half an acre against the river; and my will is that if either of these my sons shall die before that they come to be possessed of the lands that I have given them that his part that dies shall fall to the next heier at law And now I make my deare Wife Elizabeth my sole excecutrixe of all the goods and chattels that I now have as well within dores as without and to have the use of all my Coppy hold as long as she shall live, and to see that I am decently buryed and heare I have set two my hand                                                                                               

William Adams

Wittned by us

The Marke of Christopher Adams

John Wootton

Simon Gray


This page was added by David Miller on 16/03/2013.

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