Saturday, April 5, 2014

1717 Last Will and Testament: Sillenia Portis of Tetney Widdo

Almost a year ago I explored and wrote about the 1716 Last Will and Testament of William PORTAS of Tetney. He is my 7x great grandfather. I have been a little lax in writing anything on his wife Syllina's Will since then. I've had this Will image for about six years, but I put it aside 'cause something came up, then I got sidetracked, and then I helped someone else, and before I knew it, I hadn't written anything. You know how it goes.

I wrote about Syllina last November 3, 2013 when I found her marriage to William PORTAS in the 1678 parish pages of Wold Newton and couldn't make out her maiden name; I called her Syllina "What's-her-name." Today I revisited that posting and thought maybe if I could study her Will, I can find out what her maiden name was. Well, I did, and I couldn't find a clue to that mystery name. Yet, the Will helps me learn a few more things about my ancestors in Tetney, Lincolnshire, England. Also, there are some questions begging for answers at the same time showing me the need for further research.

I know this isn't a very good image. That's the price I pay taking it from the reader bed at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City on one October six years ago. I was just "gathering" at the time and I didn't know how important this document would be to my research back then. I'll call-up for this and other Last Will & Testaments next time I visit Lincolnshire Archives in Lincolnshire, England. Hopefully, I will have the chance to transcribe the original documents, too! (Click on the image to increase its size.)

Before I get on with this blog post, you should know Syllina's name has been seen spelled several ways in other documents. Way back when, not many people knew how to read or write, and the names were generally spelled phonetically, her given name could be found spelled any number of ways. In this Will her married name is spelled Sillenia Portis; I will use that spelling.

The beginning of this document has basic terminology of the times. Sillenia is of "Sound mind and perfect memory." She "bequeaths" to "almighty God" her body and soul, etc. It isn't easy transcribing these old Wills, but I'll do my best.

This Will was written on "twenty first day of May" 1717; this date is the last line. Was it administered in 1722? I won't know unless I can find the administration papers. I haven't found any other documents to go along with the Will such as Inventory either. There might not be one if she was living with her son.  (Click on the image to increase its size.)

Sillenia Portis of Tetney in the County of Lincoln Widdo being of sound mind and perfect memory ye ---- be almighty God for same do make and ordain this my Last will & Testament in Manner and form following ________ Imp? I bequeath my Soul unto Almighty God who gave it me hoping through the motile ---- Death & passion of my Saviour Jesus Christ to have full & free pardoning of all my Sins and to inherit ever lasting life and my body I commit to the ground to be decently buried in Christian manner all the discretion of my Executor hereto for named and as touching my Small Estate I dispose thereof as followeth 
Item  I give to my Son William Portis the Sume of three pounds: he giving his three children ten Shillings a piece of it and the Sume to be paid by my Executor within whole year afrom my deceaseItem  I give to my Daughter Jane being the Wife of John Ayscoghe the Sume of Seaven pound she given her children 10 shilling a piece & to be paid as the aforesaid Legacy Item  I give to Elizabeth ye wife of John Lingard ye Sume of Seaven Pounds she giving her children ten shillings a piece to be paid by her by my Executor at Twelve month from my decease  Item I give to John Berkett ten shilling & to Elizabeth Smith ye sume ten shillings is to be paid of them by my Executor within Twelve months afrom my decease   Item  I give my grand children John Portis & Elizabeth Ayscoghe & Wm Lingard Twenty Shillings to be divided amongst them & to be paid by my Executor after my decease  Item  All tho not of my money and goods not be fore different of I give to my Son John Portis whom I make my Executor of this my last will and testament  In witness whereof I have write set my hand this twenty first day of May in the year of our lord God 1717 
Witness hereon
Elizabeth X Ayscoghe (her mark)
Edward Ayscoghe
Sillenia X Portis (her mark)
In the year after her husband William's death, Sillenia didn't marry again; she is described as a widow in the opening paragraph. In her husband's Will it is thought that she would live with her son John because of the statement "if she be not content to tarry with my son John." Since she named John her Executor, you would think she was living with him and her "Small Estate" could be what remains of her inheritance from William. 

From her husband's 1716 Will, Sillenia inherited 20 Pounds, a "fether bed," a "bedstead," and "all other furniture fitting or belonging to that bedstead" in which William stated these were items for her to have a somewhat comfortable life. She also received other things necessary to her comfort. I suspect William's Will was written on his deathbed and he died shortly after it was drawn up.

This is what was written on the Will's cover sheet. I can only make out the date of 18th April 1722 and the barrister(?) John Cawley. I think those words are basic terminology in Latin of which I don't speak.

Sillenia died in 1720 three years after her Will was written. This document has a "cover" date of 1722. I'm surmising this is the date the Will was proved and everything has been administered to by her Executor. If anyone knows what the wording on the cover sheet is, please let me know.
Sillenia was buried 31 October 1720 seen on this the Tetney parish register page for 1720. She was about 60 years old. (Click on the image to increase its size.)

If Sillenia was living with her son John, then maybe the Pounds and Shillings defines her "small estate," and those "comfort" items are now in her son John's possession, but her money can be freely given to whom she wants. Besides, she didn't designate any items like feather beds or furniture, etc. to be given to anyone. So there probably wouldn't be any inventory of "goods and chattels" and maybe not even an administration document of the dispersement of such funds.

Of Sillenia's eight [known] children, William, Jane, Elizabeth, and John survive and are given their inheritance in Pounds with their children given Shillings. I'm not sure how the amount translates in today's terms, but to have it in a Will in 1716, I would think it was quite a bit a money.

Sillenia doesn't distinguish what connection she has with two more people named further on -- John Berkett(?) and Elizabeth Smith who received 10 Shillings a piece. Could they have been her servants? They must have been special to her to be named in her Will.

It is interesting Sillenia just names three grandchildren. It is confusing to me why these three were singled out and were to divide 20 Shillings. This money seems to be over and above what Sillenia designated when naming her children and their heirs.

Daughter Jane married John Ayscoghe. Of the seven children they had, only four were born prior to 1717 when the Will was drawn up. Of those four only Elizabeth was named. Could it be the other three had died? Something to look for as I do my research.

Daughter Elizabeth married John Lingard, I don't know who all their children are yet, so I can only guess that since they had married in 1712, five may have been born, but only William survived by the time of the Will. More information is needed here, too.

That leaves sons William and John to have the named grandchild John Portis. Both had sons named John. 

William's son John was baptized in 1707 and lived to be an adult about 40. He is the likeliest candidate. I can only speculate when John's son John was baptized. This young John is the second "John" to be born to John and Ann (Dixon) Portas. Their first son John died very early in life. The surviving son John was born sometime after 1715 birth of his brother William. (His sister Selina wouldn't be born until 1722, two years after Sillenia died.) If he were baptized sometime in my originally speculated year of 1717, it may have been later in the year and he, not being known to Sillenia at the time of her Will, may not have been included. And here, too, more information is needed.

As you can see, I have a lot of research waiting for me on my 7x great grandparents William and Sillenia Portis and family. 

I have been looking at all my notes from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, and the images on "Links To The Past" a website sponsored by the Lincolnshire Archives. Unfortunately for me, the parish pages I need to look through aren't scanned and uploaded yet or they aren't available. So I add to my "To Do" list for my research trip to Salt Lake City next October.

It is good to write about a couple Wills. These postings help me to see a bigger picture of my ancestors' lives. They give me a chance to sort out conflicting and sometimes confusing facts. The speculations become actual events or just continue to haunt my research. The blog posts also create more things to be aware of and to research. 

Slowly but surely, the "blanks" are being filled in, too.

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