Last Will and Testament of William Potter of Rotherhithe, baker (National Archives reference: PROB 11/1115/66)
The will of William Potter, baker, of the parish of St Mary, Rotherhithe, was made on 15 December 1783 and proved on 11 March 1784. The executors were Thomas Carter and William Potter (son of the testator). According to the probate register copy, William left:
- 10 guineas to Thomas Carter, bricklayer, near Mill Pond Bridge in Bermondsey.
- Two pieces of freehold property in Croydon to his son William.
- These two pieces of property are described as being occupied by William Chapman and two others (possibly with surnames of Stead and Acres respectively).
- Their nature is unclear. They are described as “Messuages Lands Tenements and Hereditaments with their Appurtenances”, and the word “Messuage” usually indicates some sort of building. However, Croydon historian Clarence Paget’s summary of a deed dated 9/10 June 1785 (Paget notebook 19 p. 281) implies that the Croydon property occupied by William Chapman comprised two fields of arable farmland.
- Ten pieces of freehold property (eight at Broad Green near Croydon, and
two on Queen Street in Rotherhithe), his household goods, and the utensils
used in his trade to Thomas and William junior as trustees.
- There may be some text missing or scrambled in the probate register copy, since the wording and grammar around the part describing the utensils of trade is somewhat incoherent, and it seems odd for household goods to be put into trust.
- The property at Broad Green is described as having been bought from Richard Chapman, and the utensils of his trade as being in the possession of his son-in-law John Stewart.
- The trustees were required to pay the income deriving from these ten pieces of freehold property to his married daughter Sarah Stewart for the duration of her life.
- After Sarah’s death, if she had any children aged under 21 then the abovementioned income was now to be spent on their maintenance and education until they reached their majority. Once they reached their majority, the ten pieces of property were to remain in trust but were now for “the use of” Sarah’s children as tenants in common.
- If Sarah had no living children at the time of her death, the ten pieces of property were to be given to to her brother William junior. If William junior had no children to inherit this property after him, it would pass to William senior’s niece Catharina Philips.
Below is my transcription of the probate register copy of the will. Thanks go to Brenda Hawkins for help deciphering part of this. Bold and italic formatting reflect the different writing styles used in the document, and I have added paragraph breaks to make it easier to read.
In the Name of God Amen
I William Potter of the parish of St Mary Rotherhithe in the County of Surry Baker being of sound and disposing Mind Memory and Understanding do make and publish this my last will and Testament in manner and form following that is to say I give and recommend my soul unto the hands of Almighty God that gave it and my body I recommend to the Earth
First I will and desire that all my just Debts Funeral Expenses and of proving this my Will shall be fully paid and satisfied and after payment thereof I give and bequeath unto Thomas Carter Bricklayer near Mill Pond Bridge Bermondsey the Sum of ten Guineas
I also give devise and bequeath unto my son William Potter all those my two Freehold Messuages Lands Tenements and Hereditaments with their Appurtenances situate and being in Croydon in the said County of Surry and now in the Several Tenures or Occupations of William Chapman ?Stead? and ?Acres? to have and to hold the Said Messuages Lands Tenements Hereditaments and Premises and every part thereof with all and singular their Appurtenances unto the said William Potter his heirs and assigns for ever
I also give and devise all those my eight Freehold Messuages or Tenements Lands and Hereditaments with their and every of their Appurtenances which I purchased of Richard Chapman situate lying and being at Broad Green near Croydon aforesaid and also all those my two Freehold Messuages or Tenements with their Appurtenances situate and being in Queen Street Rotherhithe in the County of Surry aforesaid and all my Estate Right Title and Interest of in to or out of the said Premises and every part thereof with all my Household Goods and Utensils in Trade now in the Possession of John Stewart and their heirs for and during the natural life of my daughter Sarah now the wife of John Stewart of Rotherhithe aforesaid Baker
Upon Trust that the said Thomas Carter and my said Son William William [sic] Potter and the Survivor of them and the heirs of them or such Survivor do and shall by and out of the Rents Issues and Profits of the said ten Messuages and Premises last mentioned in the first place support and keep the said Messuages and Premises in good and substantial Repair for and during the natural life of my said daughter and subject thereto shall and do pay or cause all the remaining Rents Issues and Profits of the said Trust Premises as the same shall from time to time arise and be received Yearly during my said daughters life unto such Person or Persons and to such uses and purposes and in such parts and proportions manner and form as she my said Daughter from time to time notwithstanding her Coverture shall by any note or writing under her hand direct or appoint and for want of such direction or appointment to pay the same unto the proper hands of her my said daughter or permit her to receive the same to and for her own sole and separate use and benefit and her receipt or receipts alone notwithstanding her Coverture shall be a sufficient discharge for the same and not to be liable to the Control Debts Forfeitures or Engagements of the said John Stewart the husband or any future husband or husbands she may marry
and from and immediately after the decease of my said Daughter in case she shall leave Issue of her body lawfully begotten at the time of her decease which shall not then have attained his her or their respective ages of twenty one years then upon this further Trust that they my said Trustees and the survivor of them and the heirs and assigns of such survivor do and shall from time to time as the same shall become due and payable [something] and take the Net Rents Issues and Profits of my said Messuages Tenements Lands and Trust Premises and every part thereof and pay and apply the same and every part thereof during his her or their Minorities for or towards his her and their Maintenance and Education until he she or they respectively attain his her or their ages of twenty one years
and if at such time any surplus shall happen to be and remain of the Rents Issues and Profits of the said Trust Premises before mentioned over and above such Payments and disbursements so to be made as aforesaid Then upon this further Trust that they my said Trustees and the survivor of them and the heirs of such survivor shall stand and be possessed of all and singular the said last mentioned Houses Lands and Trust Premises with their Appurtenances to the use of such Issue Sons and Daughters share and share alike as Tenants in common and not as joint Tenants
but if my said daughter shall happen to die without leaving Issue of her body lawfully begotten Then I give and devise the said ten Messuages Lands and Hereditaments last mentioned to the use and behoof of my said son William Potter and the heirs of his body lawfully issuing and in default of such Issue then to the use of Niece Catharina Philips Wife of William Philips of Watling Street London Pewterer her heirs and assigns for ever
And Lastly I do hereby nominate constitute and appoint my worthy Friend Thomas Carter and my said Son William Potter Executors of this my last Will and do hereby revoke disannul and make void all former and other Will and Wills by me at any time heretofor made and declare this only to be my last Will and Testament In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and Seal this Fiveteenth [sic] day of December in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty three William Potter [seal] Signed Sealed Published and declared by the said William Potter as and for his last Will and Testament in our presence who have subscribed our Names as Witnesses hereto in his presence and at his request Caleb Walker, Ann Carter, Elizth Carter
This Will was proved at London on the eleventh day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty four before the Worshipful John Fisher Doctor of Laws Surrogate of the Right Worshipful Peter Calvert Doctor of Laws Master Keeper or Commissary of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury lawfully constituted by the by the [sic] Oaths of Thomas Carter and William Potter the Son of the deceased the Executors named in the said will to whom administration was granted of all and singular the Goods Chattels and Credits of the said deceased they having been first sworn duly to adster [administer].