These wills are from a variety of sources – some from the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, and others from county record offices. Most of the wills have been transcribed to include all the names mentioned, but not necessarily all of the details of what each person received, so please see the originals for complete details.
- Barker, John, merchant of London, 1629
- Barker, Reginald esqr of Chatham, Kent, 1610
- Benlowes, Frances, widow of St Michael-at-Plea, Norwich, 1670
- Bouthe, Robert, 1615
Barker, John, merchant of London, 1629
- Son of John Barker, clothier of Bildeston
- Brother Samuel Barker of Bildeston: to have all the money coming to me in Crasbie House frim my good masters in the Company of East Indian merchants, and all my money belonging to me on board the good ship Discoverie belonging to the East India Company.
- If Samuel should be died, I leave the above to my brother Thomas Barker “dwelling in Colchester by Suffolk”. If both parties are dead, the above to my sister Margaret Barker.
- “Fearing daily to encounter with our enemies the Portingales [Portuguese?], not knowing how it might please God to dispose of me, made me to draw out a few lines, that after my death some honest body would see this desire performed.”
- “Dated aboard the Discovery upon the coast of India.”
- “At the Spreadeagle in Gratious Street there is both clothiers and carriers belonging to this town of Bildeston who will advise of the parties that be in my will specified. So I commit to God.”
Written 20 Sep 1626, probate 16 Jan 1628/9 by his brother Samuel.
Transcriber’s notes: The Discovery was built in Woodbridge, Suffolk, and was launched in 1621. The testator is the “John Barker of London, Merchant” mentioned in the Barker pedigree in the Suffolk Visitation (published 1882). The pedigree says that he was the son of John Barker of Bildeston and his wife Joan Gibson, and the grandson of John Barker of Bildeston and his wife Elizabeth Bestney. This would make the testator the nephew of Robert Barker of Monkwick and his wife Margaret Coke. However, the same pedigree doesn’t show any brothers called Samuel or Thomas. Then again, the pedigree is a little muddled, showing four of John Barker’s sisters to be his daughters.
Interestingly, the 1583 will of John Chapman alias Barker names his daughter Anne Barker, who was the wife of Thomas Barker of Colchester. Although John Barker wrote his will 40 years later, it’s just about possible that his brother Thomas could be Anne Barker’s husband.
Barker, Reginald esqr of Chatham, Kent, 1610
- Wife Anne to have the manor of Chattam alias Cheatham, Kent, for life. After her death, to my nephew Robert Barker and his male heirs.
- Made a lease to Martin Leather, Citizen and Merchant Taylor of London, for three tenements in Candlewick Street, and Bell Alley in the parish of St Mary Abchurch for £15 pa. All the tenements and rents to wife Anne for life, while a widow. After her death or remarriage, to nephew John Barker of Bildeston, Suffolk, and his heirs.
- To wife Anne: lease of houses in Bowe Lane, Aldermary parish, London, for life, and after her death, the remainder of the leases to Anne Barker, daughter of my brother Michael Barker when 21 or married. If she dies before, to my nephew John Barker.
- Also to niece Anne Barker: the manor of Harrolds in Burstall, Suffolk, in occupation of Nathaniel Dale, and other lands in Suffolk.
- Nephew Samuel Martin, my sister’s son, and Alice his wife, now wife of John Harrison £10
- Niece Mary Barker, sister of John Barker
- Niece Dorothy Maddocks £10
- Susan Yardley £5
- Cousin John Awdley 40sh for a ring
- Poor of Chatham and Bildeston: £5 to each place, and 40sh to the poor of Rochester
Executor: wife Anne Barker, rest and residue.
Overseers: nephew brother Robert Barker, serjeant-at-law, and brother Thomas Alabaster
Witnesses: Robert Yardley, John Challice, William Broman.
Probated by widow Anne, but on 21 May 1628, Edward Younge, a creditor of the deceased, swore to administer, Anne not having done so.
Written 28 May 1608, probate 2 May 1610
Transcriber’s notes: Reginald Barker was from Bildeston, Suffolk, one of the sons of Robert Barker (d1544) and his wife Parnell (d abt 1571) (see their wills). Reginald was left land in Burstall by his grandfather, John Barker of Lavenham (d1544), and John stated that if Reginald had no heirs, the property was to be left to Reginald’s brother Michael, and to Michael’s heirs – this is presumably why Anne, Michael’s daughter, was left the manor of Burstall in Reginald’s will. Michael was presumably an older father.
Dorothy Maddocks appears in a few wills – she’s Dorothy Cutler, the daughter of her daughter “Faysses” (aka Vesey) in the will of Parnell Barker, and Dorothy wife of William Maddock in the will of her stepmother, Joan Cutler/Walton/Vesey. She’s also the mother of Robert Cutler and Anthony Cutler in their respective wills. She was the daughter of Reginald’s sister Margaret. Margaret must’ve died before 1552, as her husband William Vesey’s marriage settlement, for his marriage to Joan Cutler/Walter/Vesey is dated early in that year.
Reginald’s nephew Robert was the son of Reginald’s brother John. Robert became a serjeant-at-law in 1603, and lived in Monkwick, Essex. His wife, Margaret Coke, was a sister of Sir Edward Coke, and a niece of Lettice Knightley, second with of William Cardinall. William Cardinall’s daughter Joan, by his first wife, married Robert Vesey – Dorothy Vesey/Cutler/Maddock’s brother.
As of the time of writing this in April 2021, I’m not sure how the Awdleys were linked to the Barkers – however, there were Awdleys in Monkwick, where Reginald’s nephew was living.
Benlowes, Frances, widow of St Michael-at-Plea, Norwich, 1670
- Daughter-in-law Mrs Mary Fairweather, widow, £30
- Daughter-in-law Mrs Alice Phenix, 40 shillings
- Cousin John Ramme and his sister Anne Ramm 40 shillings each
- Their sister Frances Ramm £4
- Trusty servant Margery —Fitt £20
- Mrs Ursula Fairfax of London 40 shillings
- Mrs Godfry, widow of St Stephen’s parish, and Goodwife Coe of same, 20 shillings each
- Goodwife Girling of St Michael-at-Plea 20 shillings
- Goodman Coltsel of Long Melford, Suffolk, 20 shillings
- Old Joane Gyles 20 shillings
- Executors: good friend Hammond Eastgate of St Peter’s Mancroft, Norwich, linen worker, £10
- Ursula wife of Hammond Eastgate 40 shillings.
- Sarah and Ursula Eastgate, children of Hammond Eastgate, 10 shillings each.
Witnesses: Samuel Allen, Ralph Yoxlee
Written 9 Oct 1664, probate 15 Sep 1670
Transcriber’s note: Frances was mentioned in the will of her sister, Dyonisius Mannock, in 1651. They are the daughters of Edmund Mannock, a son of Thomas Mannock of Wormingford and his wife Dennice/Dyonisius Roberts.
Bouthe, Robert, 1615[Additions in square brackets by transcriber]
- “Finding myself charged greately with disseases and yeares whiles strength and habilitie serves” makes his will.
- My lord and master the Right Honourable Earl of Shrewsbury [Gilbert Talbot]: £50 of plate
- My Right Honourable Lady and Mistress the Countess of Shrewsbury [Mary Cavendish, a daughter of Bess of Hardwick]: £50 in jewel or plate
- Right Honourable their three daughters: a ring or plate, worth £10 each
- St John’s College, Cambridge “to build a conduit for their new court and to bringe water unto yt from some fitting springe”: £300
- Sir George Bouth of Dunham [Massey], Cheshire, baronet, and to my lady his wife: a gilt silver bowl
- My Cousin Mistress Alice Bouth, daughter of Sir George Bouth: £5
- My cousins Mistresses Mary and Alice Bouth, sisters of Sir George Bouth: £5 each
- My honourable good friend Sir Charles Cavendish, knight [presumably the son of Bess of Hardwick and Sir William Cavendish, 1553-1617], £10 of plate, and £10 to his wife. And to their son Sir William Cavendish, knight, £5. And their other son Mr Charles Cavendish £5
- My loving cousin Mrs Ellinor Panton,[a sister of Sir George Bouth, mentioned above. Died 1619] wife of my cousin Mr John Panton,[died 1619] £5 for a ring, and £10 between her two children.
- Mr Edward Fox of Stinton and his wife, £10 of plate. Their daughter Mrs Frances Fox £5
- Mr Thomas Horde of Hordes Park and his wife £10 in plate. Their daughter Mrs Catherine Horde £5 [Thomas Horde 1560-?, sold Hordes Park in 1619. Father of Bridget, mentioned below, the testator’s executrix. See his History of Parliament entry.]
- Mr Wooldrich of Dynmore and his wife £10 in plate. Their daughter Mrs Mary Wooldrich £5
- My brother Mr Edward Bouth and his wife, my sister-in-law £30. Their son Edward Bouth £5, and their son my godson Robert Bouth £10
- My niece Mrs Audrey Grice, her two sons by Mr Guibon: £20 [Audrey Clippesby was firstly married to Thomas Guybon, then to Robert Grice or Le Grice. She is a daughter of John Clippesby of Oby and his wife Julian Ellis]
- My niece Mrs Julian Amis of Repps, Norfolk, £10 [Must be related to the Clippesbys somehow. Julian daughter of Robert and Mary Amess baptised at Repps on 15th August 1598. The Norfolk Visitation for Clippesby shows that John’s aunt Elizabeth married James Amys, which would’ve been c. 1520s. Is Robert their son? Or did one of John Clippesby’s sister marry an Amis, which seems more likely for Julian to be Robert’s niece or grandniece?]
- My nephew Mr Clippesby Crewe £5. His brother Mr John Crewe £5. My niece Mrs Julian Crewe £5 [All three are the children of Sir Ranulph Crewe and his first wife, Julian Clippesby, a daughter of John Clippesby of Oby and his wife Julian Ellis. They are in fact his great-nephews and great-niece.]
- My cousin Mrs Mary Bartlett £20
- My cousin Mrs Anne Dutton £8
- Mrs Markham at Roughford £5 [The testator’s executrix apparently married Charles Markham]
- My cousin Mr William Bouth, son of my cousin Mr John Bouth £10
- Mrs Mary Anne £5 [surname missing]
- Katherine Clayton 40 shillings
- Mr William Wingfield £10
- Mr Thomas Coke £10 [presumably the same man who appears in Eleanor Panton’s will]
- Mr William Hammond £5
- Henry Butler £5
- My lord’s household officers £10, my lord’s and lady’s chamber grooms £10
- Mr John Henry £10 to bestow as he wishes
- £100 for charity
- The poor of Tankersley [South Yorkshire] £10 for clothes, and £40 for the poor at the time of my funeral
- Servant John Breese £10, and £5 to his brother Giles Breese
- All my books to Mr Nevinson, parson of Tankersley, and to his successors
- Charles Mather: my second cloak, doublet, breeches and nether stocks
- Remainder of apparel to servant Edward Landsell
- Mrs Bridget Horde, now attending my lady and mistress the Countess of Shrewsbury: what remains of my lease of Tankersley, sole executrix [According to the Shropshire Visitation, she was the daughter of Thomas Hoorde of Hoordes Park/Hoards Park, Bridgnorth, mentioned above, and his wife Mary, daughter of Edward Fox of Ludford, Herefordshire. Bridget married Charles Markham of Tankersley, South Yorkshire.]
Witnesses: Charles Turner, William Pringle, William Malen.
Written 1 March 1611/2, acknowledged by testator as his last and will and testament 8 June 1613, probate 10 January 1614/5.
Transcriber’s notes: Robert and Edward Bouth appear in John Clippesby’s 1594/1598 will as his brothers-in-law. He mentions his sister Mary Bouth, who was married, which suggests that either Robert or Edward had married Mary Clippesby, as well as another of his sisters – Elizabeth, Alice and Margaret are mentioned in his father’s will. No Mary appears in the will of John’s father, William; however, William mentioned his wife Lettice was pregnant at the time of him writing his will in 1540, so that unborn child could’ve been Mary. There are Booths in John Clippesby’s wife’s maternal family (Julian, daughter of Matthew Ellis of Overleigh, Chester – her mother was Mary, daughter of Sir Piers Dutton. Note the testator mentions his cousin, Mrs Anne Dutton).
The Norfolk Visitation is a little confused for the Clippesbys – it shows that John Clippesby’s son William married a woman named Booth, and that William had two daughters, Audrey and Julian. But this isn’t correct as William died in infancy. It’s tantalising that the Booth name appears in that visitation though as it shows that the link to the Booths was on the Clippesby side. Bearing in mind the Booths came from the north of England, it’s possible that either John married Julian first and she brought the Booth connection with her, leading to the marriages of John’s sisters to Edward and Robert Booth.
As to who Robert Bouthe, the testator was… there are some clues as to his identity in the will. He mentions Sir George Booth of Dunham Massey in Cheshire, and Sir George’s sisters (Mary and Alice Bouth, and Eleanor, wife of John Panton) and daughter, his “cousins”. This Sir George Booth (1560-1652) was the son of Sir William Booth (d. 1579) and his wife Elizabeth, the daughter of Sir John Warburton. He had four brothers, including an Edward and Robert, but if the testator was Sir George’s brother, surely he would have described him and his sisters as his siblings, not his cousins?
According to the Cheshire Visitation, Sir William only had sisters, no brothers. He was the son of George Booth and Elizabeth, the daughter of Sir Edmund Trafford. Again, the Cheshire Visitation shows that George Booth, William’s father, had six sisters, and a brother called John, and John had four sons: William, Robert, Edmund and Henry. Is the testator John’s son, and that “Edmund” in the visitation should read “Edward”, or are Edward and Robert actually sons of one of John’s boys? It seems likely that they’re either the sons of a brother of Sir William, who is missing from the Visitation for some reason, or John’s grandsons.
The testator left £300 to St John’s College, Cambridge, and Alfred Freer Torry’s Founders and benefactors of st. John’s college, Cambridge mentions him (coincidentally, thanks to the alphabet, on the same page as Stephen Cardinall, who was related to him by marriage!), and says he was a bachelor of divinity from Cheshire, “‘our best solicitor,’ as Mr Baker calls him, through whose unwearied agency’ the Second Court was begun, superintended its building, erected a wooden bridge across the river at his own expense and bequeathed £300 and valuable plate.’ He goes on to say that Robert was bursar, and was elected Fellow in 1572-3. Torry reproduces part of a letter from Mr Charles Markham, who had married Bridget Horde, the testator’s executrix. Reminding them of Robert’s legacy to the college, he asks that Robert be “admitted as a Fownder or a Benefactor, so as he may continue uppon record.” The money wasn’t necessarily used for the purposes the testator had in mind: in 1636, £26 of it was used to “beautify Fisher’s and Ashton’s chantries” and the organs were replaced using his money too. A few years later, the embellishments were destroyed by Cromwell’s soldiers. However, “the elaborately chased silver gilt loving cup bearing the hall-mark of 1616 used to be known as the Booth cup.”
Trying to identify Robert in Venn’s Alumni Cantabrigiensis is difficult as he appears to have been muddled up with other scholars of the same name. Venn gives the following information about Robert’s career: matriculated sizar 1565, BA 1570/1, MA 1574, Fellow 1573, “probably son of John Booth of Dunham Massey, Cheshire.” Venn mentions that a Robert Booth of St John’s – perhaps this one, perhaps not – married Agnes Sawarde, widow of John Sawarde of High Ongar, and was the rector of Ramsden Bellhouse in Essex. It mentions that a biographical notice about Robert appeared in St John’s in-house magazine The Eagle, vol 36, pp149-150, but all I could find there were letters from the Earl of Shrewsbury. Robert makes appearances in another St John’s magazine where he and the Countess conspired to spend money on the college despite the Earl being an Oxford man. It’s entirely possible that he managed to be a rector and the Earl’s steward, by getting a curate to do all his work in Essex. And it also says that he was of Wellbeck Abbey in Nottinghamshire when he wrote his will.
Robert Booth was presumably steward of the Earl at the same time as his niece, Julian Clippesby, was part of the Earl’s household – certainly letters in the Shrewsbury and Talbot collections mention him (search TNA’s Discovery catalogue to find them). Ranulph Crewe was hired as the Earl’s counsel by 1596, and he married Julian in 1598. Another steward serving around that time, John Booth, might be one of Robert’s relatives – is he the John in Robert’s will, with a son called William? Robert Booth must’ve come from the Cheshire Booths, whereas John’s family appears in the Shropshire Visitation, which says his father, Oliver, came from Lancashire. But it seems like a huge coincidence if the two stewards serving at around the same time with the same surname weren’t related.
I am intrigued to know whether Thomas Coke was related to Edward Coke – who John Clippesby mentioned in his will (he was John’s first cousin – his mother Lettice’s sister Winifred was Edward’s mother). Thomas Coke also worked for the Earl of Shrewsbury.