The will of Thomas Efford Issell (1798 – 1874)

Thomas married twice, but each time to a woman in her forties, so it is not too surprising that he had no children. He first married at about the age of 36, to a widow some 10 years older, who had a son, Robert Henry Stabb. He did not leave his step-son a bequest; not only was the latter 15 when he married his mother, so he probably did not have the close relationship with him that  him that he might have had be brought him from infancy, but most importantly Robert had emigrated with his family in 1857. It seems pretty general that families who had emigrated were not left bequests; presumably the difficulties of getting the money to them (or of being reasonably sure it would reach them) were too much. If they had stayed in this country they probably would have received a bequest because most of Thomas’s nephews and nieces did – and Robert had married one of Thomas’s nieces, Sarah Issell.

Although he had no children of his own, one of his great nieces was orphaned aged 12 in 1865; she was living with Thomas and his wife in 1871, and may well have moved to live with them in 1865. Thomas left his home in Slapton to her (after his wife’s death) and she continued to live there with her aunt, and then marrying soon after her aunt’s death, with her husband and children.

Thomas wrote his will in 1870, but apart from that to his wife (household goods etc. and the income from his estate), the bequests were to take effect following her death. It was not until 1884, therefore, that the beneficiaries would have benefitted. In the interim several had, almost inevitably, died and at least one more nephew had emigrated.

As well as beneficiaries and others mentioned having a link to their page on this site (where appropriate) hovering over a name will show how they are related to Thomas, (where there is anything extra to say to that stated in the will).

Only one of Thomas’s siblings was still alive in 1870, and was left the largest bequest, but as he pre-deceased Thomas’s wife he would never have received this.

With the exception of the 3 nephews and 2 nieces who had emigrated, all but three of Thomas’s surviving nephews and nieces were left bequests, though of varying size. Of those three, the children of one, Thomas (b. c. 1824) were left a bequest – perhaps his uncle did not expect his nephew to survive him and his wife (he died in 1878 of chronic bronchitis, so may have been ill for some years, and wouldn’t have inherited as he pre-deceased his uncle’s wife). Another of the 3, Susan Pike, was a governess working abroad at one time; possibly she was so working when her uncle wrote his will and leaving her a bequest seemed impractical. The third omitted was Mary Sophia Jarvis née Issell; she had only moved as far as London and there is no obvious reason for her omission – maybe she had simply upset her uncle, or, since this was still a few years before the Married Woman’s Property Act, perhaps Thomas did not trust that her husband would see that Mary benefitted.

The legacies varied in size; three were left property instead of cash – it is not clear how these compared in value.

(more notes / diagrams to be added)

In the transcription of the will which follows I have tried to stick to spelling and most punctuation as in the copy from which I transcribed, but I have added paragraphs and a list, as well as bold text, to aid reading / studying the will. Comments not in the original are in square brackets – [ ]


This is the last Will and Testament of me Thomas Efford Issell of Slapton in the County of Devon Gentleman made this 22 day of June One thousand eight hundred and seventy whereof I appoint my dear Wife Betsey Winsor Issell and my Nephews William Henry Pike of Torcross in the parish of Stokenham and William Pike Issell of Stokefleming both in the said County of Devon Trustees. I direct that all my just debts funeral and testamentary expences be fully paid and discharged

I give and bequeath unto my dear Wife all my household goods and furniture plate linen and china and all such other articles of a household nature as shall be in and about my residence at the time of my decease

I give devise and bequeath all my houses lands hereditaments and premises whatsoever and wheresoever And also all my monies and securities for money and all other my personal and testamentary estate and effects unto my said trustees and the survivor of them and the heirs executors administrators or assigns of such survivor upon trust to allow my monies and securities for money to remain in their then present state of investment or at their or his discretion to change the same for others of a similar character, And either to pay to or allow my said Wife to receive the whole net annual income of my said trust estate for her life.

And from and after her decease I give and bequeath unto the Children of my Nephew Thomas Issell of Stokenham aforesaid the sum of Fifty pounds to be equally divided between them and I charge my freehold premises hereinafter devised to my Niece Kezia Pike of Torcross aforesaid with the payment of the same

I give and devise my two freehold dwelling houses garden and orchard called “Heads and Barrables” situate in Stokenham aforesaid unto my said Niece Kezia Pike (subject and chargeable as aforesaid with the payment of the sum of Fifty pounds to the Children of my Nephew Thomas Issell)

I give and bequeath unto my Nephews John Pike of Dartmouth in the said County of Devon and Robert Pike of Slapton aforesaid the sum of Fifty pounds each and I charge my freehold lands hereinafter devised to my said Nephew William Henry Pike with the payment of the same

I give and devise my freehold field and barn with the appurtenances called “Carnes Close” situate in Stokenham aforesaid unto the said William Henry Pike (subject and chargeable as aforesaid with the payment of the two several sums of Fifty pounds hereinbefore bequeathed to my Nephews John Pike and Robert Pike

I give and devise all my freehold dwelling house garden orchard field and workshop together with the appurtenances thereto belonging called “Holditches” situate at Slapton aforesaid and now in the occupation of myself and tenants And also the tithe rent charge issuing out of or payable in respect of this same unto Emma Hillman Issell Daughter of my deceased Nephew Thomas Issell late of Dartmouth aforesaid to and for her own absolute use and benefit

  • I give and bequeath unto my Brother Robert Isssell the sum of Three hundred pounds
  • I give and bequeath unto my Nephew George Issell the sum of Fifty pounds
  • I give and bequeath unto my Niece Sarah the Wife of Sampson Pitts of Stokefleming aforesaid the sum of Twenty five pounds
  • I give and bequeath to my Niece Lucy Vinning the sum of Twenty five pounds
    [who was Lucy? – on the tree I have a niece of Thomas’ Louisa whose married name was (V/F)inning, and she had a daughter Lucy. I suspect that niece rather than great niece was accurate, that the beneficiary was Louisa – maybe she was known as Lucy]

As to the residue of my said trust estate I hereby give my said Wife full power to dispose of the same either by Deed or Will in any way she might think proper to direct appoint give or devise the same

And in case she fails to make any such direction appointment gift or devise, then I give devise and bequeath the residue of my said trust estate unto the said Emma Hillman Issell to and for her own absolute use and benefit

And in case the said Emma Hillman Issell shall at the decease of my said Wife be a minor I direct my said trustees to pay the income arising from the portion of my trust estate so devised and bequeathed to her by this my Will unto her until she shall attain the age of twenty one years.

I revoke all former Wills be me at any time heretofore made, and declare this only to be my last Will and Testament of which I appoint my said Wife Betsy Winsor Issell and my Nephews William Henry Pike and William Pike Issell Executrix and Executors. In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand the day and year first before written.

Signed by the said Testator Thomas Efford Issell as       }
and for his last Will and Testament in the presence         }
of us who at his request in his presence and in the         }
presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our    }      Thomas Efford Issell
names as Witnesses thereto the word “Brother” in        }
the second line from the top of this sheet having           }
been previously written on an erasure                           }

                                                       Roger Hyne
(11 folios)                                       John Philip Hyne

Proved at Exeter the first day of August 1874 by the Oaths of William Henry Pike and William Pike Issell, the Nephews two of the Executors, to whom Administration was granted, Power being reserved of making the like Grant to Betsey Winsor Issell, Widow, the Relict, the other Executor The Testator Thomas Efford Issell was late of Slapton in the County of Devon Gentleman and died on the sixth day of June 1874 at Slapton aforesaid.Under £1000(J. H. Square, Solr. Kingsbridge.)

I certify that the aforegoing is a correct copy of the Original Will of Thomas Efford Issell deceased.

[What follows was a printed form filled in – italics indicating variable parts]

ON the first day of August 1874.
the Will of Thomas Efferd Issell late of Slapton in
the County of Devon, Gentleman
deceased who died on the sixth day of June 1874,
at Slapton aforesaid
was proved in the District Registry attached to Her Majesty’s Court of Probate
at Exeter by the Oaths of
William Henry Pike of Torcross in the Parish of
Stokenham in the County of Devon Basket Maker and
William Pike Issell of Stokefleming in the same County
Shoemaker, Nephews of the deceased, two of the
Executors therein named they having been first sworn duly to administer, Power being
reserved of granting Probate of the said Will to
Betsey Winsor Issell, Widow, the Relict of the deceased,
the other Executor.

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