Wednesday, January 16, 2013

When We Were English, Part L

by Glenn N. Holliman

A Continued Look at John Holyman's 1533 Will and What It Means....

With our last post, we began a review of the 1533 will of John Holyman of Cuddington, Buckinghamshire focusing on his bequests to St. Nicolas Roman Catholic Church.  In this article we continue our review of his estate plans and note a significant increase in family wealth when compared to his father's 1521 will.  As genealogist Anne Holmes (who transcribed these wills) observes, the Holymans in the 1500s were a family on the rise socially and economically.

Below Cuddington in the distance.  This photograph was taken on a small rise southwest of the village.  Undoubtedly some of this land was at one time in the Holyman family.  Note the sheep grazing just as they did five centuries ago.  November 2012
Below the next section of John Holyman's 1533 will
Line 21 - A cow is left to help maintain the Cuddington bridge over the River Thames, a tributary of the larger Thames.  No public works departments in the Tudor era!
Line 23 - A legacy is left to unnamed God Children.
Line 24 - Ten pounds is left for his daughter Agnes as a trust to be held by her brother Thomas or if she outlives him, another trusted friend.  In essence this is called a 'life estate' in the 21st Century legal terms. According to Anne Holmes, the equivalent value today would be approximately $5,000.  Agnes received the income as long as she lived.  This oversight by the elder son of his sister gives us an insight to the much more restricted rights women had in England at that time.
Line 30 - Various house hold items are left to son Thomas.  Metal pots and pans were valuable items during this era.
Line 33 - The heart of the will is the leaving of fee lands (lands held without conditions attached) to Thomas and his copy holds to his wife Elizabeth.  Through Line 52, John goes into great detail describing what must be done with any grain harvested.  The carefulness by which he articulates his farm activities gives us a clue to his organizational and management skills that must have been somewhat responsible for the increase affluence of this branch of the family.
Line 35 - 'A copy hold was a form of customary tenure by which a tenant held a copy of the entry in the roll of the manorial 'court baron', which recorded his or her possession of a holding on agreed terms.' - The Oxford Companion to Local and Family History (1996). Ms. Holmes states copy hold lands were subject to manorial custom and an obligation to undertake certain services for the Lord of the Manor e.g. military service.

Line 41 - Lammas Day was not a religious holiday, but prior to 1572 and the change in the English calendar, was August 1st.  The Oxford Companion to Local and Family History, while recognizing some dispute about the matter, states it was a date that allowed for a second mowing of hay.  Again we see John Holyman reaching beyond his grave to dictate farming practises! Anne Holmes notes it was traditionally the festival of the wheat harvest. Lammas means loaf-mass from the Anglo Saxon hlaf-mas.

Line 50 - An indenture is a formal contract in this case concerning use of fields.  The formal agreement would be copied twice, signed and then cut or torn in two at the indent, with each party having an identical statement of the bargain.  

More on the Will next posting....

Genealogist Anne Holmes of Buckinghamshire, a careful and accurate historian, wanted these corrections listed in this article, which she noted after the first posting.

"Correction Line 26 'be howsse' should be 'be howffe' The letters f and s can look the same, especially when written as double letters. This is meant to read in modern language 'to her behoof' that is to her best advantage. I am still struggling with the end of line 26. I think this undeciphered word may be an abbreviation of some kind. The obvious is something along the line of 'trusting' or 'keeping' but the letters do not quite fit with those words.
Correction Line 31 'grett long brass' should be 'grett long broche' A broche is a term connected with the weaving of tapestries. It could either be a weaving spindle of some kind or a long strip of woven tapestry see Perhaps it was some kind of woven tapestry that went over the bedding mentioned in the next phrase of the Will.
Also yt in old documents can be an abbreviation for either 'it' or 'that' depending on context."
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