John Thomas was a yeoman or farmer, owning or occupying several parcels of land and premises in Wivenhoe. He was 90 years old when he died according to the local burial records so he must have been born circa 1722/3. His wife was born Hannah Milbank. She died in 1806 and was buried on 24 Sep 1806 with her age given as 73, so she was born in 1732 or 1733 – ten years younger than John. Records tend to give her name as Millbank (two L’s) but she signed the marriage register with just one.
John and Hannah were married in St Marys on 28 Jan 1767, so he was then about 35 and she was about 25. They were bachelor and spinster.
They appear to have had just one child, a boy also called John. He was born on 30 Jun 1773 but lived less than a year, being buried on 8 Apr 1774.
His Will is particularly interesting because it refers to several properties on West Street including Cold Hall and the Bath (presumably the same spa Bath opened by Horace Flack in the mid eighteenth century). The property called Cold Hall was later acquired by Philip Havens on 25 April 1866 as part of a more substantial acquisition of Wivenhoe property where it is described as c) a ‘messuage or tenement with the yards gardens hereditaments and appurtenances there unto belonging now or heretofore called Cold Hall also situate and being in Wivenhoe aforesaid as all the said messuages or tenements hereditaments and premises were formerly part of the Estate of John Thomas and were formerly in the tenure or occupation of John Thomas his tenants or assigns then of Augustus Leneve [possibly Augustus le Neve?] then Abraham Ham David Durrell John Woodward Thomas Cole and William Powell then of the said Robert Wayland Tabrum and James Parkes their undertenants or assigns and are now or late were in the tenure or occupation of the said Edward Parkes and William Moseley Tabrum’.
Will of John Thomas, Yeoman, dated 6 December 1809
Probate National Archives 11/1547a and b
This is the last Will and Testament of Mr John Thomas of Wivenhoe in the County of Essex Yeoman made in the time of my being of perfect mind memory understanding but of an infirm body and advanced in years
I give devise and bequeath to John Dyer [born 11 December 1803] the infant son of William Dyer of Wyvenhoe aforesaid Mariner all that my messuage or tenement situate and being in Wivenhoe aforesaid called Cold Hall and all those two tenements near to or adjoining the same with all and every the Yards Gardens Stables outhouses and buildings thereto or to other of them belonging used occupied or enjoyed as the same is now in my own occupation and in the occupation of Arnold Nichols later of William Death their several undertenants or assigns to hold the same messuage or tenement aforesaid without appurts. [appurtenances] unto the said John Dyer and his heirs for ever
I give to Jane Dyer [born 8th February 1806] the infant daughter of the said William Dyer of Wivenhoe Mariner all that my tenement and buildings called the Bath situate and being in Wivenhoe aforesaid with all and singular the Yards Gardens Outhouses heredits. [hereditaments] and appurts.[crossed out?] thereto belonging or therewith used occupied or enjoyed as the same is now in the Tenure or occupation of the said William Dyer to hold the said Tenement and building called the Bath with the appurts. unto the said Jane Dyer and her heirs for ever
I give and devise to William Dyer [born 18th March 1808] the infant son of the said William Dyer of Wivenhoe Mariner all that messuage or tenement and garden situate and being in Wivenhoe aforesaid with all and singular the heredits. and appurts. thereto belonging as the same is now in the tenure or occupation of Richard Ham or his undertenants to hold the same with the appurts. unto the said William Dyer the infant and his heirs forever
And it is my mind and intent that in case any of the said three infant Children of the said William Dyer shall die under the age of twenty one years without leaving lawful issue of his or her or their body him her or them surviving that the Estate or Estates hereinbefore devised to him her or them so dying without issue and under the age aforesaid shall descend to the survivors or survivor of such infant children if more than one in equal shares as Tenants in Common and if but one to such surviving or only infant child and the heirs of such only child forever
And I do direct order and appoint that the said William Dyer Mariner Jane Dyer his wife and William Bragg of Wivenhoe aforesaid yeoman shall jointly have the management and governance? of the several Estates heretobefore devised to the infant children of the said William Dyer to see the same kept in a proper state of repair to control the rents and profits of the same and to apply such rents and profits after deducting the charges of such reparations in the maintenance education and bringing up of the said infant children until they shall respectively attain the age of twenty one years
I give and devise to the said William Bragg of Wivenhoe aforesaid yeoman All that messuage or tenement with the Yards Garden Outhouses heredits. and appurts. thereto belonging or with the same uses held occupied or enjoyed situate and being in Hog Lane in Wivenhoe aforesaid and now in the occupation of the said William Bragg or his undertenants to hold the same with the appurts. to the said William Bragg and his heirs for ever
I give and devise unto Edward Layzoll the youngest son of Samuel Layzoll late of Colchester in the County of Essex Victualler and ord.[Ordinance] all that messuage now divided into two tenements with the Yards Gardens Outhouses heredits. and appurts. thereunto belonging or therewith usually held occupied or enjoyed situate and being in Hog Lane in Wivenhoe aforesaid and now in the tenure or occupation of John Barr Robert Munson and their undertenants or assigns to hold the same with the appurts. to the said Edward Layzoll his heirs and assigns for ever
I give and bequeath the sum of Eleven hundred pounds which I now have in the public funds called the navy five per cents annuities unto my Executors hereinafter named upon trust that they or the survivors of them do pay and apply the interest proceeds and dividends as the same shall arise and be payable unto my brother Philip Thomas who resides in Monmouthshire in Wales and to my sister Mary if she be living in equal shares during their joint natural lives and after the decease of either of them
I do direct the whole interest proceeds and dividends arising from the said stock to be paid to the survivor of them during his or her natural life after the decease of such survivor upon trust and I do direct my said Executors to transfer and assign eight hundred pounds part of the said stock unto the four children of my said Brother Philip Thomas in equal shares or to their legal representatives
and three hundred pounds other part and remainder of the said stock I do direct them to transfer and assign unto the six children of the Revd. John Garnons of Wivenhoe aforesaid Clerk in equal shares to their legal representatives and
I do order and direct my Executors to have me Interred in the Church Yard of Wivenhoe aforesaid in a stone? grave next to my late dear wife and to have a raised Portland tombstone placed over the same and that of my said Wife with suitable inscriptions thereon and to have the same surrounded with a cast iron railing and as to all the rest residue and remainder of my personal Estate and Effects whatsoever and wheresoever after the payment of my just debts my funeral expenses the charges of the tombstone aforesaid and all other charges incident to or attending the execution of this my will
I give and bequeath the same to Jane the wife of [blank] Munday otherwise Munson to and for her own use and I do hereby nominate and appoint Edward Sage of Wivenhoe aforesaid Butcher and the hereinbefore named William Bragg Executors of this my will hereby revoking all former and other wills by me heretofore made
I do declare this to be my last
In witness whereof I the said John Thomas have to this my will contained in two sheets of paper set my hand to the first sheet my hand and seal to the second sheet and my seal to the Label by which they are together united the sixth day of December in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and nine
Signed sealed published and delivered by the said John Thomas the Testator as and for his last Will and testament in the presence of us who in his presence at his request and in the presence of one another have hereunto subscribed our names as Witnessed
Codicil 27 February 1813
This is a Codicil to the last Will and Testament of said Mr John Thomas of Wivenhoe in the County of Essex Yeoman whereas I have in and by my last will and testament directed my Executors to transfer and assign the sum of three hundred pounds part of the sum of Eleven hundred pounds which I have in the stock called the navy five per cents after the death of my brother Philip Thomas and Mary his wife unto the six children of the said John Garnons of Wivenhoe aforesaid in equal shares or to their legal representatives now I do hereby revoke this same bequest and I direct or I do direct my said executors to transfer and assign the same to the four children of my brother Philip Thomas in equal shares or to their legal representatives in the same manner as I have directed the eight hundred pounds other part of the same estate to be transferred
and whereas I have given and devised by my will unto Edward Layzoll son of James Layzoll of Colchester Victualler deceased a messuage divided into two tenements with the appurtenances situate in Hog Lane in Wivenhoe aforesaid and now in the tenure or occupation of John Barr and Robert Munson their undertenants or assigns I do revoke the same and I do give and devise [insert in the margin] ‘the said Messuage or Tenements with the appurts. to Jane the wife of William Dyer of Wivenhoe Mariner to hold the same unto the said Jane Dyer for and during the term of her natural life and after her decease I do give and devise the’ same unto John Dyer son of the said Jane and William and to his heirs for ever and I do in all other respects ratify and confirm my said Will and Testament whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal the twenty seventh day of February in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirteen
X the mark of John Thomas
Signed sealed published and declared by the said John Thomas as and for a Codicil to his last Will and Testament in the presence of us
– the mark of Jane Ship
Additional Ratification 3 April 1813
These are to ratify that John Thomas of Wivenhoe in the County of Essex Gentleman did this third day of April in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirteen declare that it was his meaning and desire that his housekeeper Jane Ship should have and receive from the hands of the Executors of his last Will and Testament the sum of ten pounds of lawful money of Great Britain and the said John Thomas did declare that the said sum of ten pounds should be punctually paid by his Executors out of his personal property and also he has signed his Last Will and Testament and we whose names are hereunto signed do declare that we and every of us in the presence [insert] of each other and in the presence of’ the said John Thomas did hear the same John Thomas declare and said and state as above him being of sound mind memory and understanding
Witness our hands this third day of April in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirteen
Eliz. Large (X – her Mark)
Additional Confirmation of the Above Ratification
Appeared personally William Powell of Wivenhoe in the county of Essex Gentleman Elizabeth Large of Wivenhoe aforesaid Widow and Jonathan Summers also of Wivenhoe aforesaid Baker and jointly and severally made oath that on the third day of April last past Mr John Thomas late of Wivenhoe in the county of Essex did being confined to his bed by the illness of which he died on the ninth day of the same month and being extremely weak infirm in body but of sound mind memory and understanding did on the said third day of April last in the presence and hearing of them those dependents who were all with him in his bedroom declare it to be his express wish and desire that his housekeeper or servant Jane Ship Spinster should be paid by the Executors of his last Will and Testament after his death the sum of ten pounds out of his personal property altho (sic) he had executed his Will and not mentioned the same therein and he the said deceased then desired of William Powell and of those present to write the same down or he expressed himself to the aforesaid effect and thereupon the said William Powell did so immediately in the presence of the aforesaid Elisabeth Large and Jonathan Summers drawn up the paper writing hereto and which begins ‘These are to ratify that John Thomas of Wivenhoe in the county of Essex Gentleman did this third day of April 1813 and thus witness our hands the third day of April in the year of our Lord 1813’and is subscribed William Powell Eliz. Large servant X Jonathan Summers and when he had so written or drawn up the same he read the said paper writing all over audibly and distinctly to the said Testor (sic) who well understood the same and liked and approved thereof in Testimony of his approbation of the same the Testator endeavoured to sign the same or to set his mark thereto but being extremely weak and infirm he was unable so to do and in such his attempt he made a blot in the place where he so endeavoured to sign his name or set his mark which still appears thereon and thereupon they those dependents by the desire of the said deceased Witnessed and attested the same to wit the dependents William Powell and Jonathan Summers by subscribing their names and she the dependent Elizabeth Large by setting her mark to the said paper writing in the presence of the said deceased in his said bedroom and in the presence of each other and these dependents jointly and severally make oath and say that the said John Thomas the Testor (sic) was at and during all the time hereinbefore set forth and deposed of of perfect sound mind memory and understanding and well knew understood what he said and was fully capable of giving instructions for making a Codicil to his last Will and Testament and of doing any act of that or the like nature and that having now particularly viewed the paper writing hereto annexed beginning ending and subscribed as aforesaid they the said William Powell and Jonathan Summers do depose that the names of W. Powell and Jonathan Summers appearing subscribed thereto are of their own proper handwriting and subscription and the said Elizabeth Large doth depose that the mark or cross set thereto is her mark and they thereby know the same to be verified ……..? and paper writing which was drawn up and read over to the said John Thomas the Testator by the said William Powell as is predeposed and which he the said Testor (sic) had professed his full approbation of and attempted to sign as is hereinbefore also set forth
The mark of X Elizabeth Large
The second day of August 1813 the said William Powell Elizabeth Large and Jonathan Summers were duly sworn to the truth of this affidavit before me ….? Coblyn? Commiss.
Proved at London with two Codicils 18th August 1813 before the Judge by the oath of William Bragg the surviving Executor to whom Admin. was granted being sworn by Comiss. to Admin.
[Transcribed by Pat Marsden, December 2020. This was quite a difficult Will to transcribe as the Probate was smudged and unclear in places but every effort was made to try to ensure as accurate a transcription as possible. Like many Wills there was no punctuation from the first word to the last but some formatting into paragraphs has been introduced to make the Will easier to read]