Friday, May 16, 2014

Revisiting: A 1770 Marshchapel Last Will & Testament for Thomas Porcas - Grazier

I've been "revisiting" my research of Portas families in the parish of Marshchapel, Lincolnshire (Lincs), England both online at Lincs to the Past as well as any data accumulated from my many trips to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. All this revisiting has been enlightening and worth the time I spend in what seems to be my retirement occupation -- sidetracking!

Of course, when I hit a brick wall or have a question, I contact cousin Margaret. It sure is nice to sort things out with someone. Margaret lives in Lincolnshire and is a storehouse of Portas family knowledge...a genealogical treasure. Everyone should have a cousin Margaret. Between the two of us, we have connected quite a few families, solved many mysteries and in the process my knowledge of Lincolnshire has increased. 

Sometime after 1749 when their last child was baptized, the Joseph Portas family moved from Wyham cum Cadeby to Marshchapel, less than 10 miles east. Joseph and Elizabeth Portas are my 5x great grandparents. They are my focus interest, but in pursuit of them, I found other Portas families living in Marshchapel, too. Some of them go as far back as the 1600s maybe even the 1500s. This sparked my curiosity to know if they were connected to my family thus driving me to look for more Portas families. Hopefully, I'll be able to connect to most of the ones I've gathered.

A = Wyham cum Cadeby and B = Marshchapel. The Mouth of the Humber and North Sea are just slightly north and east of Marshchapel. The land between the ocean and B is mostly marshes -- hence the place name. (Screen shot from classic Google maps.) 
Currently Margaret and I are working on a Thomas Porcas (Portas). There are two Thomases in Marshchapel -- a father (the elder) and his son. I don't know much about either, so I have many questions. Who better to ask than Margaret who has been researching Lincolnshire Portas families for 40 years or more? We have had a lively online email conversation in the past couple weeks.

My latest "revisit" is a 1770 Last Will & Testament for a Thomas Porcas - Grazier. You would think this would be a perfect document to get needed information about the testator and his family. There is a question though -- which Thomas does it belong? 

I don't think it belongs to the elder Thomas because as far as I know, he and wife Ann (Darwin) didn't have more than three children and there are five mentioned in the Will. Both Margaret and I agree the testator is their son Thomas who, by the way, also married an Anne. 

Thomas the elder and his wife Ann are both estimated to being born about 1673, based on their marriage of 1693 and the 20-year generation rule. They had three known children: Charles est. b. 1700, and Thomas est. b. 1702 both baptized in North Somercotes; William est. b. 1705 bap. Holton le Clay. Thomas and his family legally settled in Marshchapel 1701, but it is entirely possible Ann went back to North Somercotes to give birth to second son Thomas. It is also entirely possible they had moved on from Marshchapel to Holton le Clay and gave birth to William there. Or I've got the wrong family...that is also possible, but cherish the thought!

Son Thomas and Anne (Bennitt) had eight to ten children. I believe these children belong to this Thomas and Anne: AnneThomasElizabethWilliam, Mary, John, Hannah, and David. [I had another Ann entered, but she is questionable and has been ruled out of the equation upon further research.]

Being able to study then dissect a LW&T helps to sort out the family. Clues come from the list of the heirs and whose named as the executor(s). Was the testator rich or not? There is also a chance of realizing flaws in previous entries to our tree database, or even giving proof to some of those entries. Besides that, it tends to lengthen the to-do list!

So how much information can I glean from it? A little more than you would think.
Will 29 March 1770
Will of Thomas PORCAS Marsh Chapell 1770

This is the Last Will & Testament of me Thomas Porcas of Marshchapel in the County of Lincoln Grazier I Give & Bequeath unto my Son Thomas Ten pounds, to my Son David Five pounds, to my Son William six pounds, to my Daughter Elizabeth Holt Two pounds to my Daughter Hannah Marshal [sic] Four pounds All which above mentioned Legacys to be due and payable two years after my Decease. I Also Give & Bequeath unto my Grandaughter Ann Holt Four pounds to be paid her when she attains her Age of Twenty one years. I also Give unto James Stanaland Two Ginnys [Guineas] / in his charge of a Debt due to him from my son in law William Holt to be paid at two months after my Decease All the rest of my Effects, Goods and Chattels whatever after payment of my Debts Legacys and Funeral Expenses I Give & Bequeath unto my Son in Law Jeremiah Johnson whom I make and appoint Sole Executor of this my Wish and hereby -- revoking & making void all former or other will & wills by me at any time heretofore made I do declare this only to be my last Will & Testament In Witness whereof I have hereunto Set my hand & Seal this Twenty ninth day of March in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven hundred & Seventy

Signed & Sealed & published & declared by the Testator Thomas Porcas as & for his last Will & Testament in the presence of us who subscribed our names as witnesses thereto at his request & in his presence 
Thomas Porcas X his marke
E Elberger    Thomas Chapman

   Thomas was a grazier [definition: a person who rears or fattens cattle or sheep for market.]: He had a little money saved up. He had "Effects, Goods and Chattels" of which he bequeathed after "payment of my Debts Legacys and Funeral Expenses." This LW&T hadn't been proved yet either. So there are the Administration or other papers to find which might give more information. There is a possible codicil, but in this case the Will was signed the end of March 1770 and Thomas was buried 11 April 1770. If there was time for a codicil it probably would have been attached to this Will. As explained to me, it isn't unusual for a Will to be made out shortly before death. Are there any old Wills not destroyed floating around somewhere?

No wife is mentioned: This leads us to believe Anne has died. I found an entry in the parish register for an Ann Porcas buried on 3 Jun 1763. Could this be Thomas' wife? Usually the burial entry would have said: Ann wife of Thomas Porcas buried...but it didn't. I think I can pretty sure it is her since I didn't find anymore Anne Porcas burials prior to 1770 date of the Will.

Sons: Thomas, David, and William are mentioned, but not John, which means John may have died or he fell out of favor with his father. That is a burial record to look for. I didn't know about a son Thomas so his baptism need to be found along with David's. Originally I had seven children and now it's up to nine. Interesting enough is the disbursement pounds to these three sons: Thomas gets 10 pounds; David gets 5; William gets 6.

Daughters: Elizabeth and Hannah are mentioned, but not Ann. She married Jeremiah Johnson. A death/burial record for Anne needs to be found. I don't think she fell out of favor since her husband is named in the Will as the sole executor. The disbursement of pounds is also a little interesting: Elizabeth gets 2; Hannah gets 4. Could it be Hannah isn't married yet and her father felt she should get a little more inheritance?

Granddaughter: Ann Holt is mentioned. We know she isn't 21 yet because of the statement "to be paid her when she attains her Age of Twenty one years." I haven't found her baptism information yet -- her mother Elizabeth married William Holt 1762 in North Willingham which is a possibility of birth date and place to look. No other children to this couple have been found so far.

Son in law: William Holt owes money and his debt will be paid after the death of his father in law as Thomas directed. I have no idea who James Stanaland is or the relationship he has with the Portas family other than holding a debt. [Years later, in another parish, there is a Staniland who married into another Portas relation to this one.]

Son in law: Jeremiah Johnson must have been a favorite person of Thomas since he was named the executor and was bequeathed "All the rest of my Effects, Goods and Chattels." Quite a haul, maybe. Why would he be the one to receive the rest? Was Anne still alive and just not mentioned? Her sister Elizabeth was mentioned. Have some more searching to do.

Witnesses: I have no idea who E. Elberger and Thomas Chapman are or if they are connected in anyway to the family. It could be they were just the associates in the law office. When Bob and I made out our Wills, two of the office people came in and signed as witnesses. So it does happen.

At least now by looking closely at the Will, I know what I have to find in the records. It gives me a clearer picture of this family. What direction would I be able to go in researching any connection to the Thomas Portas family? Which Thomas?

St. Mary's church in Marshchapel.
This image was photographed by Paul Fenwick and
can be found on Lincolnshire Church Photographs maintained by
Wendy Parkinson. She has over 500 images of Lincs churches.
Marshchapel is a small parish town tucked in the marshes (Poacher County) of northeast Lincolnshire. According to the Genuki web page for Marshchapel "The parish lies near the North Sea, just west of North Somercoates and southeast of Tetney, about 10 miles north of Louth and 10 miles southeast of Grimsby. The parish covers over 3,100 acres. West End is a hamlet in the parish, as is Eskham or East Holme. A place called Fire Beacon was near the Louth Navigation Canal." You can read about Marshchapel at the Genuki website or just google it. 

Most of the parishes in northeast Lincolnshire have been residences to Portas families at one time or another for hundreds of years. I call it the "hot bed" for Portas families. I am hunting and gathering these families. 

The next time I'm in Lincolnshire, I will be paying more attention to this area. I am anxious to get pictures of more churches and baptismal fonts. I want to roam the Portas hot bed country to get to know my ancestral lands. I am also anxious to visit cousin Margaret and talk to her without a computer keyboard at the end of my fingers.

Lincolnshire is circled in red, and the area where
my Portas families have been found is the gold shaded area.
All areas as approximate.
Looking east to the North Sea and the marshes from the road just above what is left of Wyham cum Cadeby parish. Wyham is just a church, manor house, and rectory. It is on the eastern edge of the Wolds (Chalk hills). Marshchapel is somewhere out there maybe where you see those trees in the distance. The North Sea is about 15 miles away. Below are oil tankers coming and going from the Mouth of the Humber. The tides coming in from the sea are swift and dangerous. There are warning signs posted along the shore.

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