Last Will and Testament of Mary Symes of Croydon, widow (National Archives reference: PROB 11/432/26)
The will of Mary Symes of Croydon, widow, was made on 2 August 1694 and proved on 5 June 1696. The executor was her grandson, Abraham Chittey. According to the probate register copy, Mary first requested to be buried at the parish church of St Michael, Crooked Lane, London, as near as possible to the grave of her late husband John, and then left the following to Abraham:
- a piece of land called Pitlake Mead, then occupied by William Gilbert
- a piece of land called Carbrook (or Scarbrook?) Mead, then occupied by John Mudgridge
- a piece of land called Waterslad (or Waterslade?), then occupied by Robert Bridgstock (or Brigstock?)
- a piece of land called Greatorhay, then occupied by Richard Matthew
- all deeds and other paperwork relating to the above
- all her leases, goods, chattels, plate, gold, jewels, household items, linen, stocks, mortgages, bonds, securities, money, debts owing to her, and anything else in her personal estate
She noted particularly that the land had been bought by her after the death of her husband; presumably this was in order to clearly distinguish it from other property that her husband had left her for the term of her life (and hence to avoid it being handed over to whoever would get her husband’s property after her death).
She also added a proviso that if Abraham sold or mortgaged the land for any reason other than as part of his marriage settlement, then she instead left the land to his brother John. At first glance it may seem unclear how this could have been enforced. However, since at this period there was no central registry of land ownership, Mary’s will would have formed part of Abraham’s proof of title — that is, the set of documents that proved he was the legal owner of the land. Abraham would not have been able to sell the land or take out a mortgage on it without showing these documents to the prospective purchaser/lender, who would of course not wish to go ahead with a transaction that would immediately invalidate their own rights.
Below is my transcription of the probate register copy of the will. Bold formatting reflects a different (larger) writing style in the document, and I have added paragraph breaks to make it easier to read.
In the name of God Amen
The Second day of August Anno Dni [Domini] one thousand six hundred ninety foure and in the sixth yeare of the reigne of our Sovereigne Lord and Lady William and Mary by the grace of God of England Scotland Ffrance and Ireland King and Queene Defenders of the Ffaith I Mary Symes of the parish of Croydon in the County of Surrey Widow being in health of body and of sound and perfect mind and memory praised be God therefore Doe revoke all Wills and Testaments by me heretofore made And doe make this my last Will and Testament in manner and forme following that is to say
ffirst and principally I resigne my spiritt to God the ffather of spiritts hopeing and comfortably believing that of his infinite mercy through the only meritts and mediat[i]on of Jesus Christ my Lord and Redeemer I shall obtaine the full and free pardon and remission of all my sins and be received into everlasting life and blessednesse And my body in confidence that it shall be raised a glorious body I comitt to the earth whereof it was made to be buryed desiring and appointing that it be laid in the Church belonging unto the parish of St Michael Crooked Lane London soe neare as conveniently may be unto the place or grave where my late Husband John Symes lyes buryed
And as to my worldly estate I dispose thereof as followeth Imprimis as a marke and testimony of my extraordinary love and affection which I have and beare unto my Grandson Abraham Chittey son of Abraham Chittey of London Merch[an]t and Elizabeth his Wife my Daughter I doe give and bequeath unto my said Grandson Abraham Chittey All that my peice or parcell of Land called Pitlake Mead now in the occupacon of William Gilbert And alsoe all that my peice or parcell of Land called ?Carbrook? Mead now in the occupacon of John ?Mudgridge? And alsoe And alsoe [sic] all that my peice or parcell of Land called Waterslad [sic?] now in the occupacon of Robert Bridgstock And alsoe all that my peice or parcell of Land called ?Greatorhay? now in the occupacon of Richard Matthew or by whatsoever other name or names discription or discriptions my said severall peices or parcells of Land or any of them heretofore have beene or are now called or knowne with their and every of their appurtenances scituate lying and being in the parish for Croydon in the County of Surrey aforesaid together with all deeds writings and muniments whatsoever touching or concerning the same
All which said severall peices or parcells of Land I bought and purchased to me and my Heirs since the death of my said late Husband John Symes To have and to hold all and singular my said severall peices or parcells of Land and every parte and parcell of them and every of them with their and every of their appurtenances from and after my death unto my said Grandson Abraham Chittey and to his Heirs and Assigns forever
Yett neverthelesse my expresse will and mind is and I doe hereby declare my expresse will and mind to be That he my said grandson Abraham Chittey shall not at any time or times hereafter mortgage sell or otherwise incumber my said severall peices or parcells of Land or any of them save only by way of joynture or settlement in case of his marryage And in case my said Grandsonne Abraham Chittey shall mortgage sell or otherwise incumber the premisses or any parte thereof (except by way of joynture as aforesaid) contrary to the true meaning of this my Will Then I doe hereby give and devise all and singular the said peices and parcells of Land with their and every of their appurtenances unto his brother my other Grandson John Chittey and to his Heirs and Assigns forever
Item after paym[en]t and discharge of all and every the debts oweing by me I doe hereby further give and bequeath unto my said Grandsonne Abraham Chittey his Executors and Admdstrators and to his and their sole and only use and behoofe All and singular my Leases Goods chattells plate gold jewells householdstuffe lynnen stock mortgages bonds securityes ready money debts to me oweing and other my personall estate of what nature quality or condicon soever the same be which I now have and hereafter shall have in my dispose
And I doe hereby nominate constitute and appoint my aforesaid Grandson Abraham Chittey to be the sole and only Executor of this my last Will and Testament And I doe hereby desire and appoint my very loveing Brother in Law Thomas Cole and his son my Nephew Thomas Cole Tallowchandlers to be the Overseers or Supervisors of this my last Will and Testament
In Witnesse whereof I the said Mary Symes the Testatrix have to this my last Will and Testament sett my hand and seale the day and yeare above written / The marke of the said Mary Symes / Signed sealed published and declared by the within named Mary Symes the Testatrix for and as her last Will and Testament the day of the date within written in our presence and we subscribed our names in her presence as Wittnesses John Kirby William Wiseman Thomas Taylor at St Thomas’s in Southwarke Gilb Brandon at Dowgate [something]
Probatum fuit hu[ius]mo[d]i testamentum suprascriptum apud London coram ven[erabi]li viro Willimo Clements Legum Doctore Surrogato ven[erabi]lis et egregii viri Domini Richardi Raines Militis Legum etiam Doctoris Curia Praerogativae Cantuariensis Mag[ist]ri Custodis sive Comissary l[egi]time constituti quinto die mensis Junii Anno Domini Mill[es]imo Sextenmo Nonagenio sexto Juramento Abraham Chittey Executoris in codem Testamento nominat Cui comissa fuit ?Adndstraco? omnium et singulorum bonorum jurium et creditorum dicto defuncto de bene et fideliter ?Adudstra[something]? [something] ad sancta Dei Evangelia Jurat