John Bellamy is a 7 x great uncle of mine.
Like most Devon wills this one did not survive the bombing of Exeter in 1942, but fortunately we have Miss Oliver Moger to thank for extracting the main contents before the war.
This abstract is in vol. 1 of Miss Moger’s will abstract, p.162; the volumes are held at the DHC.
Miss Moger’s absract:
Ballamy, John, of Blackawton, woolcomber.
Date of Will [i.e. date written] 25 Nov. 1783.
Proved 26 March March 1785 and Will. Ballamy the executor sworn.
Debts to be paid by my brother William Ballamy my executor. Said executor to reimburse himself of all charges to which he shall be put by reason of the said William B. my brother’s becoming jointly bound withine to church wardens and overseers of said parish in a bond dated 19 Oct. 1769 in penal sum of £50 conditional on my saving the parish indemnified for the maintenance of Ann Hawkins a base child of the said parish and now living. If any of my effects shall remain after this, I bequeath such remainder to said Ann Hawkins now residing with my sister in law Jane Ballamy in the said parish. If she dies before age 21, the residue is to remain to my said brother William, executor of this will.
Seal a beehive ?
Witnesses: Jn. Laskey, Edw. Brooking
I think the references to the bond mean that John was Ann Hawkins father, and had provided a bond, which money would be forfeited if he failed to provide for Ann’s maintenance. I don’t know how long he would have been expected to provide for her – I would have guessed till 14, the age at which I’ve read children were generally considered to be independant of their parents for settlement purposes, since they were considered old enough to maintain themselves. The will reads, though, as though John was not free of providing for Ann’s maintenance, although she was 14 when it was written. Without DNA it is impossible to be sure that a man accused of being the father and required to maintain a child was actually the father, but John’s wish for any residue to go to Ann suggests a fatherly concern for her. I wonder why he and Ann’s mother, also Ann Hawkins, and who appears to have remained single (see Jane’s will, where Ann is described as a spinster), never married? Maybe John had been married and had separated from his wife, so wasn’t free to marry. Or perhaps they just didn’t get on well enough. Ann (the mother)’s father was described as a husbandman when she was baptized, so they appear to have been of similar social standing.