The inventory of George Wildbore (est. 1534 – 1606/07)

George’s probate inventory describes a house with one main living room in which it seems the cooking was done, and two chambers, one upstairs, one down, both used as bedrooms.

There was also a buttery, stable and barn and a ‘place’ – I guess what we would call a farmyard. Surprisingly, there was a bed in buttery – presumably being used and not just stored there as it had a blanket with it.

Household items

It appears the family were comfortably off though clearly not wealthy. There were 3 feather mattresses (‘bedes’ – what we know as beds they called ‘bedsted(l)es’), as well as two feather bolsters.

No luxury items are mentioned – no mirror, no pictures, no books. George may have been unable to read, as he made his mark on his will, although it is clear that some who made their mark could write. Given that he was buried just three days after writing his will his sickness may simply have been much easier for him to make his mark than to sign his name. We have evidence that son Jeremy could write (at least to sign his name); like George, Edward made his mark rather than signing his will, although also like George, there were only a few days between the date of the will and Edward’s burial.

In addition, there is no mention of any silver (though utensils were of pewter, not just wood or earthenware), and none of the furniture is referred to as ‘joined’ (i.e. made with skill, with the pieces of wood joined by dovetail or other joints rather than simply being nailed together). But it has to be remembered that tax was payable according to the value of the goods, so those making an inventory may have deliberately downplayed what the items were worth.

The armour

The one item which may seem surprising is the ‘coslet furnished’ (no doubt a corslet, with the rest of the items that went with it). An act in the middle of the C16th had made it a legal requirement for those with a yearly income from land or goods of a certain value to have armour and weapons ready in case needed, the specific armour, depending on which income / goods group a person fell into. More details are given below.

The farm

George appears to have had very few livestock with just two cows and three pigs mentioned. He also had horses, clearly used for pulling farm implements and transport – he had both a cart (‘court’) and a wagon. (In the south west it is more likely he would still have have been using oxen; I have not viewed enough inventories or read a comment anywhere to know if horses were generally used in Kent / Thanet by this time).

We can see that he grew wheat, barley, peas and tares (tares is the one which may not be familiar to all now. The word referred to weed vetch, as in the Bible, but also to cultivated vetch, grown for fodder – clearly the meaning here). Assuming all four would have been grown on the George’s land in 1607 we only know part of the acreage used for crops, as it seems only wheat and tares had been sown by the time the inventory was made (7 acres).

An Inventory of the goodes & moveables (made &
prised by willam Barbet & Jhon fuller) of
George wildbore deceased ^{of the p[ar]ishe of minster in Thanett} the fifte day of
March 1606

In the chamber

It[em] his purse & girdle

ii s vi d [2/6]

It his wearing apparell

xx s [£1]

It one borded bedestede, one feather
bede, two feather bolsters, one pillowe
ii blanketes

s [£2/10]

It iiii chestes

s [10/-]

It vii paire of sheetes, ii table clothes

xxx s [30/-]

in the upp[er] chamber

It one borded bedestede ii feather
bedes, ii bolsters, one pillowe, one
coverlide, one ruge blankete

liii s [£2/13]

It ii old chestes, one wollen whele

s [5/-]

It iiii platters, viii peuter dishes
& iiii other smale peeces, ii saltes,
v candlestickes

xiii s [13/-]

in the hall

It one table, one forme, one
bench, ii tressels

s [5/-]

It one cubberd iiii chaires one litle

s [10/-]

It one warminge pane, one paire of
cobirons one paire of brand irons
one paire of pott hangers, one gridirone
ii paire of pott hoockes, one pair of tonges
a fire shovell one hand sawe, one spitte

s [10/-]

It ii fliches of bacon

s [5/-]

It one coslet furnished

s [10/-]

It: one morter & pestle wt other
workinge tooles

ii s vi d [2/6]

in the buttery

It one table one charne, xii trugges
& boules, one litle table

s [10/-]

It certaine drinking vessels, one
stellinge[1] & ii formes

iii s iiii d [3/4]

It one bedestedell, one blanket,

iii s [3/-]

It one brine stocke[2] wt a cover
one smale iling tune[3], iii keelers
ii tubbes, one salt box one litle

x s [10/-]

It iii brasse pottes, iii stuppens
iiii kettles, one chafinge dish, one
fryinge pane one dripping pane
one basting ladle

xxxiii s [£1/13]

It ii shelves, certaine wooden platters
& dishes, ii earthen crockes wt other
smale thinges in the rome

iiii s [4/-]


in the stable

It two marres, one geldinge
one wagon one court, one ploughe
wt the harnes, ii harrowes

xii li [£12/?/?]

It two cowes, iii hogges

v li xv s [£5/15]

in the barne

It, two seames of wheat
in the sheafe

l s [£2/10]

It. in barly to thresse v seames

iii lis [£3/10]

It: in pese & tares in the sheafe

xxx s [£1/10]

It one bushell, one fan[n]e ii
sackes, one great tubb, wt other

vii s [7/-]

It wheat sowen in the field
iiii acres di[5]

vii li x [s] [£7/10]

It iii acres of tares sowen

xl s [£2]

in the place

It. one stacke of strawe
wt certaine hoves[6] & woode
wt one rack, one hogg stock[2],

xx s [£1]

It. one stock[2] to water cattle
wt one bucket & one rope to the

s [5/-]

It other fire wood about the hous[e]

xiii s iiii [d] [13/4]

It other lumber about the house

v s [5/-]

Su[m] totall

51 li 14 s 8d [£51 / 14 / 8]

wyllyam Barbett

signu[m] Johis Q fuller

Notes on a few of the words

I think the meaning of most of the words is obvious, or can easily be found in a dictionary. However, a few I am uncertain about or have me completely puzzled .

[1] Stellinge – I have no idea – any suggestions?

[2] Stock – the context suggests trough, and this as a meaning is confirmed by the OED, where it is shown as obsolete and the last example of use given is dated 1591.

However, it is also in ‘A Dictionary of Kentish Dialect’ (KAS, 2008) suggesting its use survived longer in Kent.

[3] Iling tune – a tun is a word for a barrell, and this seems appropriate with it being listed as in the buttery and with other containers: a brine trough, keelers, tubs etc.. But what is iling? I think it is probably ‘aleing’ and so a barrell used for aleings.

An aleing is described in the ‘ A Dictionary of Kentish Dialect’ (citing ‘A Dictionary of the Kentish Dialect and Provincialisms’ (1888) as:

“An old-fashioned entertainment, given with a view to collecting subscriptions from guests invited to partake of a brewing of ale.”

whilst Dr. Pegge’s MS. “Alphabet of Kenticisms, and collection of proverbial sayings used in Kent” gives the following explantion:

“an aleing, i.e. where mirth, ale, and musick are stirring; ’tis a custom in West Kent, for the lower class of housekeepers, to brew a small quantity of malt, and to invite their neighbours to it, who give them something for a gratification; this they call an aleing, and they do it to get a little money, and the people go to it out of kindness to them.”

You can’t get much further East in Kent than Minster, but nevertheless I hope this is what this barrell was for – that aleings had been enjoyed in the East as well and this reference is a link reminding us of our ancestors enjoying themselves with mirth, ale and music!

[4] Shouth – as usual ‘u’s and ‘n’s are hard to tell apart, so it could be shonth – but either way, what does it mean? – I have no idea. Probably a container, given that it too is with the keelers, tubbs etc.
(just probably not shovth as this writer does seem to use a ‘v’ shape for ‘v’s in the middle as well as the start of words)

[5] Di – again, I have no idea – anyone got any thoughts on this?

[6] Hoves – could this mean bee hives? (there are a few other changes of vowel in this inventory e.g. ‘charne’ for churn and ‘court’ for cart but I don’t know enough about C17th speech / Kentish pronunications to know if bee hives is a sensible suggestion)

The ‘furnished co[r]slet’

By “An act for t he Having of Horse, Armour and Weapons” (4 & 5 Philip and Mary, i.e. 1557 or 8), also referred to as the Statute of Armour, all citizens possessed of certain wealth, were to provide armour and weapons according to a laid down scale, being subject to penalties if they did not do so.

Those with a yearly income from land of £20-40 (L8 on a scale of L1 to L10, L1 having the highest income) were required to provide: 1 c orslet, 1 pike , l harquebut ,l morion,l bow,l sheaf of ar rows, 1 steel cap, and similar was required of those owning goods to a value of £100 to £200 (G4 on a scale of G7). The value of George’s goods as in the inventory suggests he would have been G5, and towards the lower end of that. Whilst I think the presence of a ‘coslet furnished’ was incompliance with the act, it had probably been passed down from a time when an ancestor did have goods of this value, possibly more than George had through being divided up between a number of children. In Devon where a muster roll for 1569 survives it has been calculated that about a third of the number taxed in an Elizabethan subsidy were required to provide armour, and it is suggested the providers of armour were made up of the gentry and the richer yeoman, though it seems to me that the relatively small value of goods that could make a person subject to providing armour should have brought smaller yeomen and husbandmen into the category as well.

(from the introduction in ‘The Devon Muster Roll for 1569’, edited by T. L. Stoate and A. J. Howard, 1977).

This inventory is at the KHLC, ref. PRC/10/35/126, though can be viewed on FamilySearch at FHCs or affiliated libraries, and (I think) in Kent County Council libraries. (I am grateful to Liz and Sue who open the Yeovil FHC enabling me to easily see and saved images of it).

George’s will also survives, both the original and the register copy. I have an image of the former and my transcript can be seen here.

The document is a copy written into a register. If you add up the value of the items here they come to £ 51 / 14 / 4; the 4d discrepancy I suspect is is due to the end of a few lines on p.2 not being readable, due to being hidden by the fold in the centre of the book.

(I have no copyright in this inventory, but if you use my transcript I would appreciate acknowledgement and a link to George’s page or some other relevant page on this website. This does not extend to my comments / footnotes – I DO have copyright and you would need my permission to reproduce.)

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