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Will of Richard Willes of Fenny Compton 1597

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This is a transcription of the register copy of the Will of Richard Willes or Willis of Fenny Compton, Warwickshire, England. It was written on 10 June 1597 when Richard was gravely ill, and proved on 16 June 1597 at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. [1] The memorial in Fenny Compton church gives Richard's date of death as 10 June 1597.
Richard nominated his son George as executor who was still a minor. Richard's wife Hester Willes was granted the right to administer his estate during George's minority. A procurator, Thomas Iles, represented the family at the court.

Spelling, punctuation and line breaks are as per the original document.
Crossings through have been included struck out
Paragraph breaks at change of bequest, and bold text are my own for ease of reading.
Where present, the obsolete letter Thorn has been rendered as th, and ff has been rendered as F
Abbreviations and breviographs have been expanded in [square brackets]
The writing was legible and the image quality was good.

Persons mentioned:

  • my mother unnamed but still alive as testator leaves bequest to her, now a widow. One of the overseers of the will and guardians of the executor
  • my father deceased
  • my uncle Richard Willes holds the tenancy of the farm at Napton
  • George Gryffyn testator sold a tenement in Napton to him
  • my wife not named in the will itself, named as Hester Willes in the probate statement
  • Thomas Clerk testator bought land in Fenny Compton from him
  • Edward Grevell Esquiere and one Lane they owe the Testator money in bond
  • my sonne William
  • my sonne George executor of the will and residuary legatee
  • my sonne Richarde
  • Bowler and Cliffe testator's tenants at Napton
  • my daughter Judith under the age of 14 and unmarried
  • John Paine relationship not given, bequeathed money
  • William Heyword a servant
  • Mr Hollway vicar of Cropreddy one of the overseers of the will and guardians of the executor
  • my cozen Richard Triste of Maidforde one of the overseers of the will and guardians of the executor
  • my brother Eides one of the overseers of the will and guardians of the executor
  • my nurse Furner
  • Arth[ur] Gregor witness
  • Thomas Nicholson Ceric (?clerk) witness
  • William Neyle witness
  • Thomas Iles notary public procurator, represented the family at the Court of Probate

In the name of God the father the sonne and the
holie ghoste I Richard Willes of Fenny Compton in the countie of War[wickshire]
beinge visited with sickness but at this tyme haveinge I thanke god
some intermission Doe with myne owne hande make my will and
Testament in manner and forme followeinge First I bequeath and
commit my sowle to Almightie god the maker thereof and all thinges
els trustinge assuredlie to have forgiveness of my manifold sinnes onely
by the meritts and blud sheddinge of that immaculate lambe my merci=
full Redeemer Jesus Christe the seconde person in Trinity whose meritts
I doe apprehende by a lively faith given me by the holy ghoste whereby his
innocency performance of the Law and sufficient satisfaction of godes iustice
doe belonge to me asmuch as if I have bene able to have done it my selfe his
righteousnes is our righteousnes by imputation And I beleeve my bodie how=
soever consumed in the earthe that it shalbe restored againe to my soule at
the generall resurrection and recive immortalities and glorification even as

[page 2]
Christes bodie holie beinge our first fruites hath received immortalitie and glorie
And whereas my mother by thagrement of my two grandefathers before marriage
is to have the mannor or farme of Fenny Compton wherein she now dweltheth dureing
her widowhoode, and if she marry againe then to have onlie an Annuitie of six
poundes thirtene shillinges fouer pence I doe by this will confirme the same
as much as in me lieth And for her better mainetenance doe give her oneliedure=
inge her widdowhoode also the one halfe of my pasture at Hodnell and halfe my
sheepe there and that housholde stuffe which my father gave me by his will I
will that she enioy it dureinge her widdowhoode likewise. And whereas through
negligence my wives ioyntture hath not bene by writinge limited my will is th[a]t
she shall have in lue thereof my farme at Napton with the Closes and all ap=
purtenances thereto belonginge now or late in the teanure of my uncle Richard
Willes or his assignes and the close also which I reserved from the tenement that
I solde to George Gryffyn and she shall have fouer poundes rent of Bowler &
Cliffe for theire tenement and two pardes lande wh[i]ch I will that they enioy for th[a]t
rent for tenne yeeres next commininge

Also I will that my wife have thother
parte or halfe of my pasture at Hodnell both that and the premisses dureinge
her widdowhoode onely Provided that if she marry againe she shall have onelie
one Annuitie or yerelie rent charge of Fortie poundes distraineable in my
landes dureinge her life

Also I give her one halfe of my sheepe at Hodnell &
my will is that she may fall downe what Lopwood and tymber she will
there groweinge for the needefull reparations of the saide houses soe that she
make noe waste / Also I will that my wife have all the householde stuffe w[hi]ch
she and I have provided since our mariage and is in her custodie

Also I give
the halfe yarde lande which I bought of Thomas Clerk in Fenny Compton
to my mother for her life

Also I give my wife an hundred and fiftie poundes
in monie out of the debt and specialtie or bande which is due and forfeit to me
by Edward Grevell Esquiere and one Lane or either of them all this I have
bequeathed and given to my wife uppon condition that she doe accept it for
her ioyneture haveingeclayming noe more of my landes for her dowrie which if she or
anie other by her meanes or righte doe, then my will is all my bequeastes
and guiftes to her aforesaide shalbe utterlie voide and that she make resti=
tution of all that she shall afore receive

Also I give and bequeath to my
sonne William my saide farme at Napton (my wives interest as aforesaide
alwaies excepted) dureinge his life and after his decease to the heires males
of his body lawfullie begotten and for default of such yssue to my sonne
George and the heires males of his body lawfullie begotten and for default
of such yssue to my sonne Richarde and the heires males of his body law=
fullie begotten and for default of such issue to the right heires of me the
saide Richarde

And in such sorte and in theise limitac[i]ons, I give to my sonne
the tenement and two yardes lande aforesaide which Bowler and Cliffe
nowe enioye videlt to Richard and his hieres males of his body lawfully
begotten Provided that if my sonne George may and will lawfully receiv[e]
or gett awaie the tenement and farme this given from William & Richard
contrarie to my meanineinge and will that then he shall give them within
halfe a yeare after such eviction a thousande poundes in monie, to eache of
them five hundred poundes in monie and to either of them if the saide ten[emen]ts
be evicted or they or either of them may not enioy the same

Also I give to
my daughter Judith three hundred poundes to be paide her in monie at th[e]
eightenth yeare of her age or within three monethes after her mariage
yf she marry betweene foureteene and eightene yeeres of age And if my

[page 3]
wife be now with childe and it live I give it also whither it be sonne or daughter three hundred
poundes in monie to be paide when it shall come to the age of eightene yeeres And if either
of these childen die before this monie shalbe paide then I will that it redonned to my
sonne George to whome I give the residue of the money I have provided viz six hundred
poundes to buy him some Landes for this I have geven awaie from him and solde heretobefore
I give to John Paine five poundes in monie And to every Cottager whome mine
Executor shall think fitt tenne shillinges a peece to be paide them within a moneth
after my buriall I give to every servant in the house six shillinges eight pence. But
to William Heyword for his good service Twentie shillinges I give towardes the
reparations of the Chancell of Fenny Compton wherein I desire to be buried fortie
shillinges And the residue of my landes and goodes not above bequeathed I give to
my sonne George whome I make executor of this my last will and testament And
I constitute and appointe Mr Hollway vicar of Cropreddy and my cozen Richard
Triste of Maidforde, my mother and brother Eides overseers of this my last will
and Testament And also gardens [2] of my said Executor and give eache of them a gold
ringe twentie shillinges in value And I give my nurse Furner five pounds In
Witnes of this my will and Last testament I the saide Richard Willes have to theise
presents setto my hande and seale Dated the tenth daie of June in the nine & thirtieth
yeare of the raigne of out Soveraigne Lady Queene Elizabeth the yeare of our
Lord God a thowsand five hundred ninety seaven / Richard Willes / In presence of us
Arth. Gregor per me Thomas Nicholson Ceric William Neyle

Probate [translated from the Latin]
On the sixteenth day of June AD 1597 Hester Willes the widow of Richard Willes deceased was granted administration of his goods, rights and credits according to the terms and effects of his testament during the minority of George Willes the son named as the executor by the deceased, currently a minor. To well and faithfully administer the same &c In person Thomas Iles notary public procurator Sworn on the gospels of Holy God


  1. Will of Richardi Willes 1597: "England & Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1384-1858"
    The National Archives; Kew, Surrey, England; Records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, Series PROB 11; Class: PROB 11; Piece: 90
    Ancestry Sharing Link - Ancestry uk Record 5111 #944504 (accessed 11 February 2022)
    Will of Richardi Willes of Fenny Compton, War, granted probate on 16 Jun 1597.
  2. guardians

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