WIVES, WIDOWS AND WILL-MAKING IN TUDOR PEMBROKESHIRE

By Roger Turvey

Women, whether they were wives, widows or spinsters, rarely wrote about themselves so that lives lived as wives, mothers, sisters and daughters often went unrecorded. This largely explains why we know virtually nothing from personal writing about the daily lives of all but the most extraordinary or wealthy of women. It is perhaps ironic that whereas in life the majority of women are observable only indirectly, often cited in impersonal legal documents or in genealogies, in death they are probably at their most visible. Will making served not only as a testament to the distribution of a person’s possessions and property but as proof positive of their existence. Yet even here in their desire to make their testamentary mark, women found themselves at a disadvantage when compared to men for of the 2 million wills which survive from the mid sixteenth to mid eighteenth century approximately 400,000 are by women and of these around 80 per cent were by widows.1 Liberated by the death of her hus­band the widow was largely free of the constraints imposed upon her by the legal framework and moral mores of contemporary society. Widow­hood was a period in a woman’s life when she was most clearly identi­fiable as an independent agent, in essence, a full legal person. Unlike a spinster who often remained financially dependent on the family, the widow had access to money and property that ensured a measure of financial independence.

Married women were precluded from making wills except with the con­sent and by special arrangement with their husbands. Only the most enlightened and liberal of the latter, of whom there were precious few, permitted their wives a free hand to dispose of their personal possessions.2 With this in mind it is perhaps no surprise to learn that married women were responsible for less than one per cent of wills drawn up in England between 1558 and 1700. 3 The wills cited and printed in Appendix II are examples drawn from widows and spinsters who lived their lives as part of Pembrokeshire’s landowning elite but, as will become clear, even within this privileged class there were variations in wealth and status. The fact that they are transcribed and published here for the first time adds to their value as documents that provide an extraordinary insight into an hitherto little explored area of gender-related history, namely, the lives, deaths and will-making activities of some of Tudor Pembrokeshire’s wives, widows and spinsters.

It has been calculated that the proportion of women who made wills in England and Wales during the sixteenth century was somewhere between 13 and 18 per cent. 4 In Pembrokeshire this figure falls to a little over 10 per cent for out of a total of 175 wills currently recorded as extant for the period between 1485 and 1603 only 19 were drawn up by women.5 The majority of Pembrokeshire women who made their wills were widows. Of the 19 female testators only two were clearly spinsters; twelve described themselves as widows or can be identified as such from their wills. The status of the remaining testators cannot be ascertained so easily but there can be little doubt that not a single one made their wills whilst they were married and their husbands lived.

Of the 175 Pembrokeshire wills the vast majority were made by minor landowners or people whose landed interests were confined to the county within the boundaries of the diocese of St. David’s. These landowners were subject to the authority and administration of the bishop and so had their wills recorded and probate granted in the diocesan court. On the other hand, the majority of the wealthier and more consequential land­ owners, often people who possessed property within and outside the diocesan boundary, had their wills proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury in London. The wills discussed here are mainly from women who are to be found in this latter group and range in date from 1504 to 1603.6 Geographically they are drawn from across the county being resident in large towns such as Haverfordwest and Tenby or in more rural areas like Llanfrynach and St. Dogwells when they died (see Fig. 1 ). Although it is likely that the majority were Welsh-speaking the wills are written in English, the language of law and government in Wales since the passing of the so-called Acts of Union between 1536 and 1543.7

Wills survive largely in register copies so we are dependant on the truthfulness and accuracy of the clerks responsible for their transcription. 8 Unfortunately for those testators who hailed from Wales the London­ based English clerks had great difficulty transcribing Welsh personal and place names so that some adjustment is often necessary to understand who, what and where was intended. That said it is clear from the St.David’s probate records held at the National Library of Wales that even some of the bishop’s own clerks sometimes exhibited a degree of tran­scriptive inaccuracy that border on the criminal. For example, Lleucu becomes Llyky and Katherine is transformed into Katterynge! Neverthe­less, if handled with care, and error aside, these documents are invaluable as evidence of the social, economic and religious lives of women who had the authority, influence and means to leave their mark on history.

Fig 1: Map of Pembrokeshire parishes showing the locations of the will-makers

Fig 1: Map of Pembrokeshire parishes showing the locations of the will-makers

The contents of wills must be approached with caution not only on account of the quality of the transcription but in terms of understanding the processes and pressures involved in will making. Wills were public documents framed and structured to a particular formula that were made typically in the presence of friends and family, hence the witness list at the end. In addition, they were legal documents that were transcribed by a clerk and probably read by the bishop or his officials to verify their con­ tents. Women, more than men, were subject to the influence of scribal opinion and the forces of compulsion, perhaps even coercion, which were brought to bear on the dying by those pressing around them. Unsurpris­ingly, given what was at stake in terms of property and possessions, some wills were subject to dispute and litigation. Although most disputes involved the disappointed challenging the validity of a will, rarely the sanity of the will-maker, some contested the appointment of executors. In such instances probate was usually delayed until the matter was resolved in court. In Pembrokeshire litigation was rare but not unheard of, for example, the will of Elizabeth Lougher of Tenby was subject to challenge with the court’s final judgement being given in the form of a sentence .9 Nuncupative wills, such as that by Elizabeth Green of Castlemartin, 10 were often carefully scrutinized by the authorities in case of abuse or in search of evidence that might hint at pressure being brought to bear on the testator.

It is generally agreed that most sixteenth-century wills exhibited highly conventional statements, most especially in the religious preamble, and that many of the apparently individual expressions were dictated by the scribe rather than to him by the testator. Nevertheless, their formulaic nature does not entirely undermine their usefulness as evidence because even conventional expressions were shaped by social custom, especially those determined by the gender of the will maker. Indeed, in late Tudor England and Wales distribution to charitable causes were marked by gender distinction: men’s wills more often gave to the poor-box or for general distribution at the discretion of the executors while women seemingly gave for specific needs such as the repair of hospitals , helping sick people, road improvement, helping maidens to marry (or in the period prior to the dissolution of the monasteries, encouraging them to become nuns) and making scholars of the poor by putting their young to school.

Examples of such generosity can be found aplenty in Pembrokeshire wills. For the ‘reparation’ of the almshouses in the town of Haverfordwest, Margaret ap Gwilym (d. 1556) left 20s. 11 Anne Jenkyns 12 (d. 1570) left the parish of Cilgerran a legacy of 40s. followed by a more specific gift to its poor of £6 8s. 4d. To her unmarried daughter, Elizabeth, she bequeathed the considerable sum of £100 along with a stock of cattle but only on condition she followed ‘the advyse and councell of my sonne Thomas Revell in bestowinge of her selfe in marriage’. This concern for helping maidens to marry also extended to her niece, Sage Walter, who would benefit to the tune of £6 8s. 4d. but only if she ‘do take a husband by the advyse consent and agreement of my Sayed sonne Thomas’. In an act more characteristic of her male counterparts Elin Cathern (d. 1568) donated the meagre sum of a shilling to the ‘poore menns boxe’ of the parish of St. Martin’s, Haverfordwest.13 In keeping with the greater generosity of her gender Winifred Brown (d. 1594), gave those of the parish poor of Carew who attended her funeral the sum of £5 and ‘ unto six maides that shall carry me to churche ffive shillings apiece’.14 In stark contrast is the will of Tangustl Welcock (d. 1549) who did not leave the poor of the parish of Llawhaden so much as a brass farthing let alone any donations in kind such as a jug of ale or free supper. Such uncharitable disregard for the needs of the poor or parish are rare but they did occur, though if current conventional Welsh wisdom is to be believed this was more likely to happen in Cardiganshire than in Pembrokeshire!

It has been calculated that women’s wills accounted for nearly one third of all charitable bequests suggesting that giving to charity was dispro­portionately led by them. Such gift giving on the deathbed plainly con­stituted a continuation of one’s life work to distribute alms to the poor and in so doing conveyed a sense of communal responsibility. In the opinion of J. S. W. Helt Tudor women drew their charitable inspiration from Christ’s injunctions in Matthew 25:35-37. 15

For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in.

Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 16

Helt rightly argued that traditional religion taught that money should be given to good causes but as to the crucial question of why women rather than men were more disposed to follow the precepts of the Bible or the extolling of pulpit preachers, there is no definitive answer.

Wills provide an insight into the role of women in memory that cannot be obtained from other sources. Testamentary gift-giving played a central role in the efforts of dying women to define their post-mortem identity and to secure their place in the folk memory of their respective communities. Their identity was an issue, apart from the spinster, because marriage involved moving to a new home, perhaps the adoption of a new family but certainly the assumption of a new surname. Multiple marriages, punctu­ated by periods of widowhood, led to frequent changes of name, family loyalties and obligations. It is interesting to note that some women, as widows, made their wills in their married name while others returned to using their maiden name. The reason for this is not altogether clear but it may have been a means by which women could re-assert their indepen­dence by recasting their identity . For example, within eighteen months of losing her husband, Sir William Perrot, Joanna, his widow, opted to make her will in her maiden name of Wogan.17 There is nothing to suggest the two had fallen out or were estranged but the fact remains Joanna had, bar one, an entirely different list of witnesses to those who attended her hus band at his death. It is perhaps ironic that those who chose to draft their wills in their married name could not have done so had they still been wed for although widows and single women had the right to leave personal property by will married women did not.

The majority of women maintained ties with and loyalty to the family of an earlier marriage while others ‘adopted or suffered from a kind of social amnesia’ 18 treating their current or last husband as the only one with whom they had spent part of their lives. Those women happy to acknowl­edge wider family ties were willing to perform what they saw as their duty by distributing legacies of lands and goods from previous marriages. Thrice married Anne Jenkyns left legacies not only to the children of her first and second marriages but to her brothe r’s daughter also. In a feat of familial unity she entrusted the care of her daughter from her second marriage, Elizabeth Phaer, to her eldest son of her first marriage, Thomas Revell. Family ties often influenced a woman’ s choice of executor, the majority were men, the eldest son, but occasionally a woman was appointed to manage the probate process and distribution of moneys and goods. There were exceptions to the rule as in the case of Margaret ap Gwilym who opted to appoint a husband and wife as joint executors of her will and estate. On the other hand, Elizabeth Lougher (d. 1595) chose to split the responsibility between her son, John, as executor and sister, Anne, as over­seer.19

Widows were entitled to a third of their husband’s estate. These portions, known as dower, were intended to provide widows, and any children not heirs to their father ‘s property, with the means to lead a comfortable life until their own deaths. As the chief marital entitlement the extent of the dower was often agreed and settled before the husband drew up his will. The possession of dower property was nearly always only held for the life of the widow and upon her death would revert back to the heir. Conse­quently the widow had no right to either sell or lease this property but this did not prevent her from acquiring additional property which she could dispose of as she wished. Thus was Anne Jenkyns able to bequeath to her youngest son not only ‘one hundrcth poundes’ but ‘my townhowse in … Kilgerran’ .20 Should a widow remarry and outlive her second (sometimes a third or even a fourth) husband she would be entitled to a third of his estate also. Thus dower made the widow very attractive in the “marriage market” but it also conferred on her a measure of social and economic independence which would be lost on remarriage. Indeed, in a world dominated by men women only truly enjoyed the freedom to conduct their personal lives as they wished  when they entered  what some historians have termed “free widowhood ” .21

Secure in the property rights and income that flowed from marriage the wealthy widow had the financial means to play a significant role in the local economy. Widows, along with single women, could not only hold property they could buy, lease or sell property, sue and be sued , borrow or lend money. Some widows were a force to be reckoned with, for example,

Elizabeth Lougher had in her possession a sum in excess of £2,300 to bequeath to family, friends and servants.22 The ability to dispose of such a huge sum of ready cash is rarely found in Pembrokeshire wills but in a thriving port and commercial centre like Tenby it may not have been unusual. The bequests to servants testify to the part played by women in the maintenance and employment of indivi duals and families in the locality. From the will of Anne Jenkyns we know that she employed at least three trusted servants along with an unknown number of ‘ household servantes ‘to whom she left the total sum of £14 ‘ to be destrybuted accord­inge to the discrecon of my executor.’ 23 Elizabeth Lougher was rather more generous leaving some £73 to be divided between six named servants, both male and female. 24

The will and testament was, in esse nce, the testator’s last act in life and the aim was nearly always to satisfy the needs and wants of the family. Daughters were almost always at the forefront of a testator’s thoughts whether they are male or female . If a father had not made provisio n for his daughter then this was left to the wife. In most cases the bequest involved money to be used as a dowry in order to attract a suitable husband. Among the most generous in respect of moneys left to her daughters was Elizabeth Lougher who bequea thed £2,000 to her three daughters: Lettice £800, Elizabeth £700 and Jane £500. For the majority of testators the sums bequeathed to daughters was rather more modest being on average between £50 and £100. The lowest sum bequeathed as dowry for a daughter was the £10 Ellen Scourfield (d. 1582 ) received from ‘my father Harry Skorfilde [sic] gave towards my marriage which sum is now in the hands of my brother John.’ 25 Unfortunately for Ellen she never lived long  nough to marry so that the dowry, alo ng with her worldly goods amounting to £7 2s. 8d., were left in he r will to her sister and executrix Jane.

The concern shown by a mother for her children is understandable but to be able to dispose of her assets according to her ‘free’ will was dependent on her status. Widows were, to a large extent, in charge of the ir own destinies and therefore free to do as they wished. In view of the freedom and inde­pendence that widowhood conferred it is perhaps surprising that so many women remarried. Of course one can but wonder what kind of moral and social pressure was brought to bear on women to either remarry (or marry if a spinster) or remain single but the loss of the testamentary capacity of married women involved not just interference with their ability to act inde­pendently but possible changes in the settlement of property or money.

In the opinion of Judith Jones the fascination of wills is that they are ‘the most human of the documents which survive in any quantity from the sixteenth century’.26 The truth of that statement is self evident and this article is but a modest example of what can be achieved when the spotlight is shifted away from the male majority to the will-making activities of the female minority. This is a subject that demands and fully deserves further investigation.27

Fig. 2: A copy of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury Will Registers. The registered copy of the will of Anne Jenkyns is shown listed with others drawn from different parts of the country. (TNA: Crown Copyright)

Fig. 2: A copy of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury Will Registers. The registered copy of the will of Anne Jenkyns is shown listed with others drawn from different parts of the country. (TNA: Crown Copyright)

Appendix I

List by date of the Wills and Testaments of Women in Tudor Pembrokeshire

 

 

Joanna Perrot of Haroldston (W) E.21 l/395(L) 1503
Elizabeth Newton (W) 1524 PROBl l/2l(L)
of Monkton
Tangustl Welcock (W) of Llawhaden 1549 PROBll/32
Margaret ap Gwilym (W) 1556 PROB I1/38
of Haverford west
Elin Cathern (W) of Haverfordwest 1568 PROB I l/50
Anne Jenkyns (W) of Cilgerran 1570 PROBll/52
Ellen Scourfield (S) of St. Dogwells 1582 SD/1582/9
Katherine Elliot (W) 1594 FG, Vol. 10, 170 28
Winifred Browne (S) of Carew 1594 PROBJ 1/84
Elizabeth Lougher (W) of Tenby 1595 PROBl l/85(L)

Saige Don (W) of Llanddewi Velfrey  1601                    SD/1601/15

Elizabeth Powell (W) of Newton North 1601                 SD/1601/52

Joanna Cod (W) of Warren 1601                                      SD/1601/70

Elizabeth Green of Castlemartin 1602                            SD/1602/l 3

Anne Rees (W) of Bletherston 1603                                SD/1603/5

Morfydd Thomas (W) of Llanfyrnach 1603                   SD/1603/62

Janet Harding (W) of Rudbaxton 1603                          SD/1603/102

Agnes Shepperd (W) of Talbenni 1603                          SD/1603/112

Gwenllian dau. of Llywelyn of Llangolman 1603         SD1603/l17

Key:

E             The National Archives, London, Exchequer documents Ancient Deeds Series.

PROB      The National Archives, London, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Will Registers.

SD           National Library of Wales, St. David’s Diocesan Records. FG     National Library of Wales, Francis Green Printed Records.

 

 Appendix II

Sample of Printed Wills

 I

Tangustl Welcock of Llawhaden          29 Marcgh 1549                                

TNA,   PROBll/32

Drawn up: 16 February 1549.

Probate granted: 29 March 1549.

In dei nomine Amen the xvi daye of Ffebruary the yere of our lorde god a thousande five hundreth fourtie and eight the reigne of Edward the Sixte by the grace of god of England, Ffraunce and Ireland king defender of the faith, supreame hed of the churche of England and Ireland under god the thirde yere of his most gracious Reigne. I Tangluste Welcock of the parishe of Llawhaden wedowe in the deane[ary] of Dungledy and dioc[ese] of Seynt Davieth being hole in mynde and memorie fering the danger of deathe do make my testamente and last will as hereafter [… ]. In primis, I do bequeth my soule unto Almightie god my body to be buried in Cristen buriall. Item, I do give and bequeth to my sonne Richard Wilkyn my greate pann, coverled and a pewter dishe. Item, I bequeth to my sonne Henrey Wilkyn my greate crock[?] [… ] and oxen and vi shepe. Item, I bequeth to Anne Smith a blanyget. Item, I bequeth to D[avid] Ieuan his wife a smock. Item, I bequeth to Owen Shilde a growne shepe. Item, I bequeth to Lewis Wilcock his daughter a growne shepe. Item, I bequeth to evry of my godchildren iiid. And by this my last will I do declare all maner of wills or testaments that I have made or declared before the making herof to stoned as voyde and of none effecte but this my last will and testament to stoned in effecte. And if I may be able to ryde or to be carred in any wise my mynde ys to comm to Yeuan Butler and to Agnes Wilkyn my daughters [law] all thereof of my goodes there to remaine during my life with therein and to occupie my goodes at my pleasur during my life. And yf it please god I departe this transitory worlde before I comm to my sonne in lawe Yeuan Butler and to Agnes Wilkyn my daughte r. I do make and ordeyn Yeuan my sonne and Agnes my daughter to have, occupie and myore all the rest of my goodes not bequeathed and to receve all my debtes in whosovere his handes they be as hereafter[… ]. In primis D[avi]d M[ere]dith xx s., John ap Ieuan de Vayner xviii s., John Lloyde de Drewen iii s., John Vachan his wife de Pembr[oke] xxxiii s. iiiid., Thomas Smith de Daelbonne xx d., Richard Gelin de Dalebonte iii s., Ievan Moris v s., Henry Lloyd iiii s. viii d., Henry Maythew xi s. iiii d., Greffith Tailor viii s. iiii d., D[avi]d ll[ewelyn] [… ] Noxe [?] xx s., Arthur Berkby xiiii s., Lewis Lloyd iiii s., John Tailor vi s. viii d., Morgan Harry vii s., Phillip Bramhell v s., John Roblyn v s. xi d., R[ees] Fole vi s. viii d. This be the names of the witneses to whom I declared unto them this my last will and desired them to testifie the same at my tyme they be requisit so to do John Lloyd clerk curat of Llanhedeg, Thomas Gitto with others

II

Margaret ap Gwilym of Haverfordwest (W) 16 April 1556 

TNA, PROBll/38

Drawn up: 27 March 1551.

Probate granted: 16 April 1556.

In the name of God Amen the xxvii daie of the month of Marshe in the yeare of owre lorde god a thousande five hundred fyftye and one the fourthe yere of the raigne of owre most gracious sovereigne Larde Edwarde the sixte. I Margarete ap Gwyllim of the towne and countie of Haverforde West in Southe Wales widowe being in my goo d and hole minde and of a perfect remembrance [… wde] and praise be unto all­ mightie god make and ordaine this my presente testamente contenynge therin my last will of the disposition of a11 my goodes and cattells move­ able and unmoveable which that I have of any other to my use hathe within the realme of England or Wales and the dominion of the same in maner and forme followinge that is to witt. Ffirst I geve and bequeath my sowle unto the infinite mercy of allmightie god maker and redeemer of the same moste humbly bestowinge my saide rede[emer] and maker that he for his sonne Jesus Christes sake my mediator and advocate maie have mercy and pitie upon the same. And by his grace to provide that after the departure therof owt of my naturall body it maie be conveyed and directed towards the waye of everlastinge salvation. And my bodie to be buried in the parishe churche of owre Ladie within the towne and countie of Haverforde Weste aforsaide. Also I will that my executors herafter named and ordained as sone after my departure as they maye doe give to the poore people at my burial aswell two peces of fryses as also twoe poundes of money by penny dole amongst them to be devided. Also I geve and bequeathe to the reparation of the Almies house there xxs. Also I reserve out of this my laste will and testamente xii heades of Cattell and fortie shepe to be distributed divided and given by myne owne proper handes as shall thinke most mete, best and conveniente so for to doe. Also I will that all debtes sufficientlie proved to be due by me by any writinge or other­ wise to any personnes truelie contented and paide by myne executors herafter named and constituted in as conveniente time after my departure as it canne be broughte aboute. The residue of all my goodes and cattells moveable and unmoveable and debtes after any debtes paide my funeral expenses performed and theise my legacies in this my presente testamente and laste will subscribed I holye geve and bequeathe to William Aprice of the towne and countie of Haverforde aforesaide gentileman and to Elizabethe his wife whome I do make and ordeine and constitute to be whole executors. And I utterlie revoke and a[d]null all and everie former testamente or testaments, will or willes, legacies be[… ]stes executor or executors, overseer or overseers by me in anywise before this time made, named or caused to be made or named , willed and bequeathed or at any time herafter shall name and appointe to be myne executor or executors otherwise than is specified, mentioned and named in this presente testa­ mente and last will to be my executors. In witness wherof to this my presente and laste will I have putte my seale the daie and yere above written. In the presence of theise personnes whose names as subscribed John Sutton, Maior of Haverforde was presente at the sealinge herof Rice Morgan and Richarde Whithe, bailiffs of Haverforde.

III

Elin Cathern (W) TNA, PROBll/50   30 April 1568

Drawn up: 6 April 1568.

Probate granted: 30 April 1568.

In the name of God Amen. The sixt daye of Aprill anno domini 1568 et anno regni domine Elizabeth dei gratia Angliae, Frannie et Hibernie regne and ordained as sone after my departure as they maye doe give to the poore people at my burial aswell two peces of fryses as also twoe poundes of money by penny dole amongst them to be devided. Also I geve and bequeathe to the reparation of the Almies house there xxs. Also I reserve out of this my laste will and testamente xii heades of Cattell and fortie shepe to be distributed divided and given by myne owne proper handes as shall thinke most mete, best and conveniente so for to doe. Also I will that all debtes sufficientlie proved to be due by me by any writinge or other­ wise to any personnes truelie contented and paide by myne executors herafter named and constituted in as conveniente time after my departure as it canne be broughte aboute. The residue of all my goodes and cattells moveable and unmoveable and debtes after any debtes paide my funeral expenses performed and theise my legacies in this my presente testamente and laste will subscribed I holye geve and bequeathe to William Aprice of the towne and countie of Haverforde aforesaide gentileman and to Elizabethe his wife whome I do make and ordeine and constitute to be whole executors. And I utterlie revoke and a[d]null all and everie former testamente or testaments, will or willes, legacies be[… ]stes executor or executors, overseer or overseers by me in anywise before this time made, named or caused to be made or named, willed and bequeathed or at any time herafter shall name and appointe to be myne executor or executors otherwise than is specified, mentioned and named in this presente testa­ mente and last will to be my executors. In witness wherof to this my presente and laste will I have putte my seale the daie and yere above written. In the presence of theise personnes whose names as subscribed John Sutton, Maior of Haverforde was presente at the sealinge herof Rice Morgan and Richarde Whithe, bailiffs of Haverforde.

III

Elin Cathern (W) TNA, PROBll/50  30 April 1568

Drawn up: 6 April 1568.

Probate granted: 30 April 1568.

In the name of God Amen. The sixt daye of Aprill anno domini 1568 et anno regni domine Elizabeth <lei gratia Angliae, Frannie et Hibernie regne fidei defensoris est I Eline Chatherne alias William of the towne and countie of Haverford West widowe beinge hole of mynde and of good and perfect remembrance thankes be unto almightye god but sycke in bodie do make this my last will and testament in maner and forme folowinge that is to saye ffirst I bequeath my soule to almightye god my maker and redeemer my bodie to be buried in the parishe church of Seint Martynes in Haverford West aforesaid. Item, I give unto the poore menns boxe of the same parishe of Seint Martines twelve pennce. Item, I do give unto my brother Sir James William knyghte my rounde table of Cypress. Item, I do give unto my daughter Jane Chatheme a Spruce cheste the greatest that I have savinge one and the best fetherbed that I have savinge one with appurtenances. Item, I do give unto Jane Abowen her daughter one fether­ bed. Item, I give my sonne William Chatherne the fetherbed with the bed­ stead and all the appurtenances to the same belonginge whereon. Item, I do give unto Elizabeth Nethell half a dozen platters and a fether bed. Item, I do give guaranteed and by this my last will and testament I do freely and clearly confirm and bequeath my sonne John Chatharne all that my house tenement or bergage with a garden to the same annexed with all and singular thappurtenances to the same belonginge sett lyeng and beinge in the towne and countie of Haverford West adjoynynge to the churche yard of Seinte Martines abovesayed wherein I do now dwell together with all and singuler other my landes, tenements, mesuages, borgages, gardens, rentes, services, revicons and hereditamentes with all and singuler ther appurtenances whatsoever I have or of righte owght to have sett lynge and beinge in the towne and countie of Haverforde West or the proximate of the same or within the countie of Pembroke orelse where wheresoever to have and to holde all that my saide house, tenement or borgage, with the sayde garden and all other thappurtenances to the same belonginge wherein I do now dwell and all and singuler other my saide landes, tene­ ments, mesuages, borgages, rentes, services, revercons and heredittamentes with all and singuler ther appurtenances whatsoever to the saide John Chatherne his heires and assignes forever of the cheife landes of the [… ] by rentes and services thereon [delve] and of right heretofore accustomed and lykawise all the rest of my goodes moveable and unmoveable not geven or bequeathed I do give and bequeath unto the said John Chatharne whome I do make, ordaine and constitute my hole and sole executor to order and dispose the same as he shall thinke best and moste corvenient. In witnes whereof I have hereunto sett my seale the daye and yere above-written witnesses by her requested Richarde Ho[we]11, Meredeth apowell, Roger Mercroft, D[afyd]D Routh, Edmond Harrys, John Keney, Jankin Vane, William Johnes, Moris Canon, Thomas Wallyn, Robert Laye

 

IV

 

 Anne Jenkyns of Cilgerran (W) 3 July 1570

TNA, PROBll/52

Drawn up: 7 October 1569.

Probate granted: 3 July 1570.

In the name of God Amen. The seventh daye of October in the yeare of our lord god a thousand five hundreth three score and nyne. I Anne Jenkyns of Kilgerran in the countye of Pembroche wydowe being sycke of bodie but whole of mynde doe make my last will and testamente in maner and forme followinge. Ffirst I bequeathe my soule unto allmyghte god my creatore and redeamer and my bodie to be buried in ye parishe churche of Killgerran. Item, I bequeath unto the parrishe of Kilgerran a xis. Item, I doe give and bequeath to the poore a vi li.vi iis . iiiid. to be destributed by the handes of myne executour. Item, I doe give and bequeath unto my sonne Thomas Revell all my righte and interest which I have in ye lease and patent of the demaynes and forrest of Kilgerran with ye house and furnyture as yt nowe remayneth. Item, I doe give and bequeath unto my sonne John one hundreth poundes and my townhowse in the towne of Kilgerran. Item, yf my daughter Elizabeth Phaer do take and followe the advyse and councell of my sonne Thomas Reve11 in bestowinge of her selfe in marriage then I give and bequeath unto the sayed Elizabeth ye some of one hundreth poundes and all the stocke of cattell nowe remayn­ inge upon the tenements of Owyn Geradd and moundyvye otherwise my sayd sonne Thomas to use his owne discrecion. Item, yf my nease Sage Walter do take a husband by the advyse consent and agreement of my Sayed sonne Thomas, then I bequethe unto her the some of a vil. xiiis. iiiid.. Item, I do give unto My servaunte Rhys ap Richard a v 1.. Item I do give unto John Morgan a xis. Item, I do give unto Owen Gwyn a xis. Item I do give and bequeth unto the resydew of my household servantes a v 1. to be destrybuted accordinge to the discrecon of my executor. Item, I do give unto Edward Rychard a xxs. Item, I do give towards the mendinge of the highe wayes abowte ye towne of Kilgerran a xxs. Item, I doe constitute and apointe my wellebelovyt sonne Thomas Revell my full and hole executor of this my last will and testament and Mr Barlowe of Slebech and Mr John Mortymer overeers of this my last will and testament, witnesses of the makinge of the forsayed testament Elizabeth Phaer, Re[es] ap Richard, John ap Morgan, Willyam Whyte, Owen ap Griffith, Willyam Barrett, Gryffith Rees, Sage Walter, Eva Richard, Margarett v[erch] Phe[llips] and others

V

 Winifred Browne of Carew (S) 13 November 1594

TNA, PROBll/84

Drawn up: No date.

Probate granted: 13 November 1594.

In the name of God Amen. I Winefriede Browne of Carewe etc (sic) make this my last will and testament in writing. Ffirst I bequeathe my sowle etc (sic). Item, I give unto Robert Browne and Armiger Browne my brothers either of them one hundreth marks to be paide within one yeare after my decease. Item, I give unto my sister Ffuther twenty poundes of good Englishe money and all my apparrell and jewels whatsoever excepte one aggett whiche I give unto M[istress] Bridgett Downes. Item, I give unto Mr. Robert Sapcote thirty poundes of good Englishe money. Item, I give unto Marie Jerningham my mother twenty poundes. Item , I give unto my cosen Edmond Billingforde tene poundes. Item, I will that ffive poundes shaJbe distributed and given upon my burial daye to the poore people there assembled and mett together. Item, I give unto six maides that shall carry me to churche ffive shillings apiece. Item, I give unto every of my mothers servanntes bothe men and maides twenty shillings apiece. Item, I give unto my keeper mother Clerke forty shillings. Item, I give towards the funeshing of my ffathers tombe in Walton Churche in Suff[olk] twenty poundes. All my other goods and money I give unto my brother John Browne. Item, I will and my minde is that all the legacies and somes of money before bequeathed shalbe paide within one yeare after my decease and I doe make my executor of this my last will Mr. William Sydner of Blunston Esquyer these being witnesses George Heball and Mrs Anne Jermingham.

Notes

  1. These figures apply to England and Wales. Amy Louise Erickson, Women and Property in Early Modern England (London, 1993),
  2. For a useful discuss ion of the legal rights of married women, see H. Helm­ holz, ‘Married Women’s Wills in Later Medieval England’ , in Sue Sheridan Walker (ed.), Wife and Widow in Medieval England (Michigan, 1993), 165-82.
  3. M. Prior, ‘Wives and Wills, 1558-1700’, in Chartres and D. Hey, eds., English Rural Society, I500-1800: Essays in Honour of Joan Thirsk (Cambridge, 1990), 208-10.
  4. Erickson, Women and Property, 204-5.
  5. Figures are drawn from and based on probate records held in the National Archives, Londo n, and the National Library of Wal This doe s not include the wills of those people who owned or disposed of land in the county but res ided elsewhere. If these wills were taken into account the number of surviv­ing probates connected with Pembrokeshire would rise significantly. See Appendix I for a list of the Pembrokeshire women who sought probate between 1503 and 1603 . See also Helen Chandler, ‘The Will in Medieval Wales to 1540’ (University of Wales, M.Phil. thesis, 1991).
  6. See Appendix
  7. The earliest wills, dating from before the mid to la te 1520s , we re written in Latin the language of the However, the Reformation contributed to the decline in the use of Latin as the medium of expression in will making.
  8. The single known exception is that of Joanna Perrot (nee Wogan) whose will is original and not a copy lodged in the PCC or Bis hop ‘s For a fuller dis­cussion of her will, see R. Turvey, ‘Until Death Do Us Part: The Last Wills and Testaments of a Husband and Wife in Early Sixteenth Century Pembrokeshire ‘ , JPHS, No. 18 (2009), 11-32.
  9. TNA, PROB11/85. The dispute involving the terms of Elizabeth Lougher ‘s will was bitter and protracted. I hope to return to this subject in a future
  10. NLW, SD/1602/13.
  11. See Appendix II,
  12. , II, IV.
  13. Ibid ., II,
  14. , II, V.
  15. S. W. Helt, ‘Women, memory and will-making in Elizabethan England’, in Bruce Gordon and Peter Marshal (eds.), The Place of Death: Death and Re­ membrance in Late Medieval and Rarly Modern Europe (Cambridge, 2000), 188-205.

16. Quoted from the King James Version. 17. Turvey, JPHS, N 18 (2009), 27-30.

17. Turvey, JPHS, No.18 (2009), 27-30

18. Joel T. Rosenthal, ‘Fifteenth-Century Widows and Widowhood: Bereavement, Reintegration, and Life Choices’, in Walker (ed.), Wife and Widow, 40.

19. TNA, PROBll/85.

20. Appendix II, IV.

21. See Sue Sheridan Walker, ‘Introduction’ , in Walker (ed.), Wife and Widow, 3.

22. TNA, PROB11/85.

23. Appendix II, IV. To her chief servant, Rhys ap Richard, Anne left £5. To John Morgan and Owen Gwyn she bequeathed £2 apiece. The sum of £5 was shared among the remaining unnamed servants.

24 TNA, PROB11/85.

25 National Library of Wales, SD/1582/9.

26. Judith Jones, Monmouthshire Wills proved in the Prerogative Court of Canter ­ bury, 1560-1601 (Cardiff, 1997) , 54.

27. For a useful discussion of women’s wills in the period after 1600 see Gerald Morgan, ‘Women’s Wills in West Wales, 1600-1750’ , Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion (1992), 95- 114. Pembrokeshire is only briefly touched on in this article.

28. Transcript only. The original will of Katherine Elliot has not been locate d.