The will of William Grigsby (1606/7 – 1661/2)

William Grigsby is a 9 x gt grandfather of mine.

The following is my transcription of the register copy of the will, ref. PRC17/71/98, which can be seen on microfilm at the KHLC or in the Canterbury Cathedral Archives. (With thanks to Ann Ross for obtaining the copy which I have used). A few words added from the original, ref. PRC16/266 G/4, (the words in italics) either missing or I couldn’t read in register copy. (With thanks to Ray Jarvis for supplying me with images of this).

(An inventory also survives for William; I plan to look at this when in Kent in 2016)

[] indicate something I have added – whether letters in a word abbreviated in the document or a comment or link to a footnote.

In the name of God Amen
I William Grigesbey of the parish of Marden in the
County of Kent the elder ther yeoman make this
my last will and testament in manner and forme
following Item I bequeath my soule to God
that gave it and to Jesus Christ who redeemed
mee and to the holy ghost who sanctifieth all the
elect people of God And my bodie to the earth
from whence it was taken to be decently buried
at the discrecon of my Executors. hereafter named
Item I will and bequeath to my sonne William
Grigesby one shilling of lawfull English money to
be paid [couple of letters crossed out] in one yeare next after my decease Item
I will and bequeath more unto my said sonne William
Grigesbey five bushells of wheat to be paid by my
Executors yearly one bushell of wheat [1] that is to
say the next Christmas [something above ‘as’ of Christmas?] eave after my decease one
bushell of good wheat and soe every Christmas eve
for the space of five yeares one after another next
after my decease and then to end Item I will
bequeath to my said sonne William Grigesbey
his two sonnes William and Edward ten shillings
a peece of lawfull money of England to be paid to
them by my Executors. in one yeare in one yeare next after
my decease Item I will and bequeath to my daughter
Alice tenn pounds of lawfull money to be payed to
her by my Executors. when shee shall attaine to the age of
one and twenty yeares of age Item I will and bequeath
to my daughter Elizabeth five pounds of lawfull money
to be paid by  my Executors. when shee shall attaine to the
age of one and twenty yeares Item I will and bequeath
to my daughter Hannah five pounds of lawfull money to be
paid her by my Executors. when shee shall attaine to the
age of one and twenty yeares Item I will and bequeath
unto Sibebella my daughter twenty shillings of
lawfull money to be paid by  my Executors. when shee
shall attaine to the age of eighteen yeares Item as
concerning my Howse and Land wherein I now dwell I
will and bequeath it to my two sones Thomas and to
my Sonne James and to theire heires forev[er] And that
there shall an eqwill division be made of the said howse
and land betweene my said two sonns Thomas and
[in right margin between lines above and below: ‘x orld. sir(?)’]
James im[m]ediatly after my my now wife Sibbella her
decease and not before [2] And that then the said howse
and land as is aforesaid shall be equally devided in two parts
And my sonne Thomas shall then presently have one part
to him and his heires for ever And my sonne James shall have the
other part to him and to his heires for ever Item I doe
nominate and appoint Sibbella my wellbeloved wife
together with my sonne Thomas Grigsby to be fully
and wholly my Executors. to this my last will and testament
whence I doe hereby order and appoynt to pay and defray
all my legacies heerein bequeathed and shall pay and
dischardge all my debts both Speciall and others and all
my funerall charges and the proving of this my last will
and testament And what soever shall remaine over &
above all that is to be paid as is above said my minde &
will is that my Executors. shall equally divide it betweene
them and have it for there parte and paines In witnes
whereof I have published and declared this my last will
and testament and hereunto have sett this my hand and seale
the twentith day of January in the thirteenth yeare
of the raigne of our sov[er]aigne Lord Charles the second
by the grace of God of England Scotland France &
Ireland King etc. And in the yeare of our Lord God one
thousand six hundred sixtie one William Grigsbey
the eldor his marke Sealed and deliv[er]ded  published
and declared this my p[re]sent last will and testam[en]t in
the presence of Will Maynerd James Wood his marke
Edw Bathurst [name clear in original, not in register copy]
Probatum fuit … Quarto die mensis Martii [4 March] Anno Dm 1661 [1661/62]

Discussion / footnotes

In view of the dispute between William the testator and William the son, which the latter had taken to the Court of Chancery (bill and answer transcribed here) less than a year before his father’s death, it is interesting to see how William the son is treated by his father. I thought at first he was being cut off with a shilling. But then there was that bushel of wheat – what was that worth?
[1] Bushel of wheat:

  • a bushel of wheat was 56lb [a]
  • the average price of wheat of in the Home Counties (which include Kent) in the 1660s was 45 shillings per quarter [b]
  • a quarter is 28lb, so a a bushel is 2 qtrs, hence receiving a bushel of wheat for 5 years William was receiving something that would have been worth about 90 shillings, or £4.10s, each year – £22.10s in total, more than any of his half-sister’s received (and this cannot be explained, as is sometimes the case, by them having received their share as a marriage settlement, as none was married at this time).
  • I don’t know much about what William (the son) did for a living. When he brought the bill of complaint against his father he described himself as a yeoman of Maidstone, but he seems to have been back in Marden later. I have not found any evidence of a will; perhaps being a yeoman was what he felt he ought to be. As the population was expanding at this time (I think, to be checked) and his half brothers inherited the land and house from his father, he may well have had to work as a labourer. In the 1660s a labourer in Essex would earn 12-16d a day, in Buckinghamshire only 8d [c]. With the higher price of wheat in the Home Counties compared with the rest of Southern England, I suspect the wages were higher across the Home Counties, and Kent would have been similar to Essex. Assuming William would have worked 6 days a week, earning 12 – 16d a day, the cost of this bushel would have taken him about 11 to 15 weeks to earn, so it seem to have been a very useful inheritance. While William (the son) only had the 2 sons named when his father died, by the first Christmas after he had a 3rd, and a 4th was born in the final year he would have received the bushel of wheat, so it would seem to have come at a very useful time for his family. With land that grew wheat I imagine this may have come from what Thomas and James grew on the land they inherited, rather than Thomas and Sibbell setting aside the money to buy a bushel for 5 years. I wonder if this led Thomas and James to feel resentment, that William was getting for free something they were working hard to grow, or did they appreciate having inherited half of the house and land, rather than a third?

[2] William’s wife Sibbell was 12 years his junior but outlived him by 42 years, not dying until 1704 when Thomas was aged 61 and James 50. At least one of Thomas’s children had left home and married by this time. I wonder if Thomas and James and their families lived with their mother in the family home, working the land, in the knowledge that it would one day be theirs (or their childrens, should their mother outlive them) or did they set up home elsewhere in the parish?

Discussion / footnotes sources

[a] – Wikipedia entry

[b] – Bowden, Peter J. (ed.) “Chapters from the Agrarian History of England and Wales, Vol. 1: Economic change: wages, profits and rents, 1500 – 1750”, 1990, section 5: Statistical Appendix, 1640-1750, D Prices of agricultural commodities: regional decennial averages, p.356 – Table XXXII – Price of wheat (in s. per quarter)

[c] – Ibid. (section 5, E Wages and cost of living p.369 Table XLIV Daily wage rates in certain areas of England (in d.))


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