Sunday, April 28, 2013

Looking at the 1724 Last Will and Testament: the Other William Portas of Tetney, Lincolnshire

In my last post (April 24, 2013)  I looked at the 1716 Last Will and Testament of William Portis of Tetney, Husbandman... I didn't know he was my 7x great grandfather when I "gathered" it on one of my Family History Library trips several years ago, but with the help of cousin Margaret the evidence became overwhelming he belonged to my family. Subsequently, I realized I also had his wife Syllina's LW&T from an early trip. Treasures.

Besides the 1716 LW&T, I picked up a second Will for a "William Portis of Tetney, Husbandman" ... who, as it turns out, is a different William. So who is he? Both Williams lived in Tetney parish during the same years. Is there a connection? Are there any clues in the Will which can tell me whose family he belongs to? The only name there is in common is Edward Ayscough. How does he fit into the scheme?

Out of all the Williams I have gathered (and I have found many) in the last few years, I can't match up this William (spouse Elizabeth) with any parents to help me in my connection quest. Of course that would be a benefit, but then the thrill of the hunt would be over quickly. So the hunt goes on.

In combination with this LW&T, parish record films, and cousin Margaret's genealogical researching prowess, I have put together a family unit which includes seven children. This only puts together their immediate family, but for now I'm glad I have this little bit.

Four of William's seven (known) children are named in his Will: John 1707-?; William 1713-?; Elizabeth before 1723-?; and Mary 1723-1728. The three not mentioned are: Edward 1718-?; Thomas before 1719-1719; Martin 1720-1720. At least two of these three died before the Will was drawn up, but since I haven't found a burial record for Edward, I don't know. I would guess he died; he would have been too young to be out on his own.

"Signed, Published and Declared" 26 Mar 1724. I do not have the administration of this LW&T.
It is interesting to read these old Wills. These old Wills have phrases and words that aren't used in the modern age; cousin Margaret helped with some of the deciphering. The more Wills of this age I read, the more familiar I become with the archaic language, spellings, not seeing punctuation as well asThey are also somewhat formulaic, yet keeping it personalized to the nearly deceased, particularly the beginning statement. 

"In the Name of God Amen I William Portis of Tetney in the County of Lincoln Husbandman being weak & sicke of Body but of sound and perfect memory thanks to be God for the same do make and ordain this my Last Will and Testament in Manner and form following...";  "I give and bequeath my soul unto Almighty God who gave itt to me trusting through the morele death and passion of Jesus Christ my Saviour to inherent ever lasting life and as for my body I commit to the Earth to be decently buried att the discretion of my Executors..." (If I have not transcribed this correctly...please let me know what needs fixing.)

There is a word I couldn't make out. It was added above "weak of" between the second and third line - it looked like Reke, but I didn't find it in a legal dictionary. Finally Photoshop "clean-up" exposed a crude ampersand and the word sicke. I only have one problem with this... the "e" at the end of sick isn't backwards. Maybe it isn't an "e"... that with the ink spot could be another symbol or letter, but for now I will go with what I have.

Once written, William begins to "give and dispose thereof..." to his son John Portis 30 pounds of "Good and Lawfull money of Great Brittain" to be paid to him when he reaches the age of 21... John was baptized 1714 at age of 7, he was born about 1707, that makes him about 17 at the time of the Will.

To his son William the same about "to be paid as ye former Legacy" which most likely means when he reaches the age of 21 also. William was baptized 1713, so he was about 11 years old; daughter Elizabeth, will receive 30 pounds at 21 years of age. Only other stipulation besides they being 21 is that none should "dy before they attain" their adult age. I haven't found a baptism for Elizabeth, so I don't know what age she is at this time, but we do know she must not be 21 yet.

As we read on he finally names his wife. "All my goods and Chattels what some ever I have moveable and unmoveable I give to Elizabeth Portis my loving wife and Mary Portis my Youngest Daughter whom I make Joynt Executrixes of this my Last Will and Testament..." What? Mary is an joint executrix? According to my records, she would have been about a year old at the time of the writing. Maybe that was written like that so both would be in the "estate" and taken care of until Mary reaches 21.

"In Witness Whereof I have hereto set my hand this twenty sixth day of March in ye year of our Lord 1724." And with a shaky hand, unlike the writing in the Will, he signs his name. Notice there isn't a "his mark X" within his signature as there is with one of the witnesses. William did know how to write. Whoopee, another thing revealed?

The witnesses are (as best I can make out): Richard Kerk and Edward Ayscough. There's Edward again. I will have to track this person down to see if there is a marriage and spouse name for him. It might take awhile because the records be in another parish...God only knows where... Edward I believe could be my best clue to which Lincolnshire family William belongs to. The Will didn't shed any light at all except maybe the naming practice with John - being the first son - named after William's father.

Added to the Will 14 Apr 1724, not declared as a "Codicil." 

The page above is an add-on, not declared as a "Codicil" like it was typically done. It is dated a couple weeks after the front side of the Will. This would mean William didn't die when the original was written. Margaret said it is common to have the Will written on the "death bed" and shortly after that day or next couple days the person died.

William seemed to have forgotten his brother John Portis and "My Brothers" John Martin and Tho- Taler or Talen (Taylor?)... Margaret says these two could be brothers-in-law. A clue! William has two sisters. I want to sing the "Blue's Clues" song...

It seems William is holding these men in trust of his children just in case his underage children - still living - "take security" with one of those three men if Elizabeth, his loving wife "should marry again to another husband." Could that mean he didn't want his children to be under the same roof with a step-father? Would he much rather have them under the care of his brother or sisters' husbands?

No matter, Elizabeth, as far as I can tell, didn't remarry. I found a burial record for who I believe is Elizabeth – 3 May 1758 "an ancient poor widow" (Tetney parish record) – this date is well after all the children, even Mary, would have attained the age of 21. Mary passed away sometime in 1728 about age 5.

I don't know much about this family at all and have only a couple clues for further searching. A couple clues might not be enough. I am not sure Edward Ayscough is connected to the family. William and Elizabeth didn't have a daughter old enough to be the spouse of Edward, so he might be another brother-in-law married to a sister of his wife? Or maybe William is the cousin to the other William (1716 Will) and Edward is somehow connected to that family. Both families lived in Tetney parish around the same time. There must be a connection, but how? I know the other William's daughter Jane married a John Ayscough. Could he be a brother or son to Edward? Oh, to throw a wrench into the mix...Edward could also just be that guy in the parish who witnesses everything and has no connection at all. Hmmm...

William (& Elizabeth) of Tetney family are now on my Family History Library trip's ToDo list. My quest in October will be to solve several mysteries, and the marriage record of this couple is one of them. Will I succeed during my eight-day trip or will it take me seven years more like it did to find Joseph?

I've got my work cut out.

1 comment:

  1. Nice work, Karen. You are becoming quite good in your will transcription. Thank you for helping with Silas Dollen, Yeoman of Westbuckland will. I recognize the phrase, "Good and Lawful Money of Great Brittain."

    I really love that he bequeathed his soul to God to inherit everlasting life! Very Cool!