1 May 2017

Mr Pennoyer's Gift

Mary Squire's Almshouses


Mr Pennoyer's Gift

This is the eighth post in my series reporting my research into Mary Squire's Almshouses in Walthamstow, London, formerly in the county of Essex; and of Mary Squire herself.

This post relates to a charity mentioned in the apprenticeship indenture for Thomas Squire, Mary's brother-in-law. Mr Pennoyer's Gift enabled him to apprentice to a wheelwright.

Here is the excerpt quoting the charity, repeating the charity name enlarged underneath:


I am pleased to say that I finally found information on this.  I got lucky in finding a book at the British Library (I thank them for letting me have a Reader's Pass. Couldn't do the research without the Library).


The book is:
Pennoyer Brothers - Colonization, Commerce, Charity in the Seventeenth Century
by Raymond H. Lounsbury. Dorrance & Company Philadelphia © 1971 - Library of Congress. Printed in the United States of America (Ref: X.529/16666)


William Pennoyer Esq. Citizen and Clothworker was a wealthy and powerful merchant. His will dated 1670 is lengthy ("Seaventeene sheets of paper and this peece of a sheete") and very convoluted.  I don't think I'm able to make much sense of it but it is quoted, apparently in full, in this book if you wish to look at it yourself.

His five children had died in infancy and, in amongst a great many other legacies, he left money to charitable purposes of several kinds.  From my first read of this book, I remembered that he had left money for the educating of young men, but I thought this related to university education and not apprenticing into trade.

The silly thing is that I can now no longer find this.  I am not inclined to revisit the issue I am afraid.


What did leave a lasting impression is that an unholy mess seems to have broken out in administering the will.  Mr Pennoyer had named a large number of trustees and also overseers but from the Lounsbury book's account the trustees did not do a good job.  They didn't involve themselves in the appointed tasks of will executors and left the paying out to legatees to the named servant.  He in turn did make many payments, but then he died before everyone had been paid.

Then there was trouble and strife of William's brother, Robert Pennoyer, disagreeing with a lesser amount being paid out to him, someone else started a law suit but then died before it was decided, an overseer seems to have enriched himself with money he paid to himself for his expenses and for tasks carried out - and several properties did not bring in much rent money due to heavy repairs... I am not quite sure whate else went wrong.

Suffice to say that it seems pure luck for any money to have gone to charity at all.

Page 237 of the book does state: "...he distinguished himself by making bequests to be used solely for financing the education of children of impoverished parents", this however in context of a legacy to the heirs of his brother Robert based in New England.  Harvard is being mentioned.

The book does refer to Mr Pennoyer's Gift quite often - this is the exact phrase used in Thomas's indenture which can't be a coincidence.  Perhaps the financial situation by 1743 had improved, or the later trustees did a better job.  Mr Pennoyer's will also refers to one draper so he may have had business relationships and friendships with people from the company of drapers but that's neither here nor there for their role so many years later.  1743 is 73 years after 1670.  Why would the Company of Drapers have been involved in paying £50 of Mr Pennoyer's Gift for Thomas to be apprenticed?

In conclusion I can't say if this is the relevant charity only that it seems likely due to its name.  Perhaps there are other accounts out there that may shed more light, I am just pleased that I found a book that says anything at all about it.


If you are wondering why I am writing about Mary Squire's Almshouses then have a look at this first blog post.

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23 Apr 2017

Thomas Squire's apprenticeship

Mary Squire's Almshouses


This is the seventh post in my series reporting my research of Mary Squire's Almshouses in Walthamstow, London, formerly in the county of Essex (the Squire's Almshouses); and of Mary Squire herself.

I believe that the Squire siblings moved away from Walthamstow after their parents died in 1742 and 1744.  In terms of their occupations, William named himself a boxmaker in his 1763 will and I found the original apprenticeship indenture for Thomas.

Again this is incredibly exciting - I believe that not all that many of these parchment apprenticeship certificates survived.


The certificate reads, in part:

This indenture witnesseth that Thomas Squire Son of William Squire late of Walthamstow in the County of Essex Farmer dec'd

doth put himself Apprentice to William Hatch Citizen and Wheelwright of London, to learn his Art...
... serve for seven years...
And the said Master (in consideration of Fifty Pounds of Mr. Pennoyer's Gift paid by the Worship[ful] Comp[any] of Drapers being the money given with said Apprentice). [etc]

2 August 1743

The reference of the apprenticeship records at LMA containing Thomas's indenture is:
X109/005 - 1734-1752
The letter 'S' against Thomas's name in the index stands for 'servitude' and means he served an apprenticeship.  Other references were 'P' for patrimony, when someone could apprentice because their father was a member of a worshipful company, and also 'R' but  unfortunately I can't think what this stands for (could it be renumeration?).

This date confirms that the burial record dated 14 May 1742 is most likely that of Thomas and William's father, and not of Thomas's brother William (which would scupper the idea that William was Mary's husband. So phew!).

1743 was the year after William Sr died, and one year before Elizabeth Squire died - so I feel that this was likely the mother's burial and not that of their sister.

Starting an apprenticeship meant that Thomas moved away from Walthamstow to likely live with William Hatch and his family to carry out the seven years' contract.  I know from the apprenticeship indenture of Thomas's own son that Thomas did become a wheelwright.

I found out a little more about apprenticeships.  Boys, and some girls too, would commit themselves (or I should say their fathers committed them) to serving an apprenticeship of seven years under a master or mistress.  This was the normal, standard length of time.

Some apprentices had a really bad rep: they would go drinking and carousing and form street gangs that made a nuisance of themselves and could even be dangerous.  I suspect that the vast majority of apprentices were nothing of the sort.  I may write more about 18th Century apprenticeships at some future point but this post is already long enough, so I won't add to it just now.

An apprenticeship could also be quite a harsh regime, depending on the master.  Some apprentices were horribly exploited and abused.  Most would probably have experienced a more middle of the road apprenticeship.  I hope Thomas did.


The last point of interest of this apprenticeship indenture is where the money came from: apparently not from the Squire family (did their father's death leave them in financial straits?) but the Company of Drapers seems to have procured a charity payment from something called Mr Pennoyer's Gift.
I found out more about that, and (think that I) learnt a context that makes it even stranger that Thomas would have had help from this quarter - more about that in another post.

© Company of Drapers
I must say that I don't understand why the Company of Drapers got involved (it is lucky for Thomas that they did. Who helped him by putting the Squire family in touch with the drapers?  Was someone at the Company of Drapers a mentor for young Thomas?). Thomas's son William did an apprenticeship to become a haberdasher, which is a lot closer to what drapers did (wool and cloth merchants) - but a wheelwright?  Maybe this is just the apprenticeship they could find for him, maybe it was just luck of the draw.  I must emphasise that I have not found out who helped Thomas get the charity payment, and unfortunately I am unable to answer any of the other questions that occurred to me.  Such a shame.

Most apprentices would start their apprenticeship at 14, I reckon that Thomas was 15 and a half, a bit late in starting.  Was this because of possible financial problems at home?  Where was his older brother William at this time?  William would have been 18 in 1742 at the time of his father's death and 20 when his mother died.  Was there no farm to inherit from his father?  Did he perhaps not want to work as a farmer, or did they lose the farm without their father around because William Sr may have been a tenant farmer?

The late apprenticeship start by Thomas could point towards them giving up farm life in 1743 or 1744 when their mother died.  I have the feeling that this is when William moved to the city - but I have not been able to find an apprenticeship record for him to become the boxmaker his will names him to be in 1763.


If you are wondering why I am writing about Mary Squire's Almshouses then have a look at this first blog post.

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3 Apr 2017

Mary's parents-in-law

Mary Squire's Almshouses


This is the sixth post in my series reporting my research into Mary Squire's Almshouses in Walthamstow, London, formerly in the county of Essex; and of Mary Squire herself. Official name: The Squire's Almshouses.

To complete the St Mary parish register records that I found at the Walthamstow Local Archive I'll next write about Mary's parents-in-law.

I found either four or even six children baptised at St Mary's Walthamstow whose oldest son looks to be William Squire who went on to marry Mary (all my research points to William being the right man, I have not found any contradiction).  The children were baptised, and probably born, between 1724 and 1731.

I then looked for the marriage of William's parents, i.e. Mary's parents-in-law.

It wasn't very surprising that this marriage was not to be found in the parish register of St Mary's Walthamstow.  People back in those days usually got married in the bride's parish, and if the bride wasn't from the same place as her husband-to-be, then that could be anywhere.

I looked at Essex parishes to begin with, because the village of Walthamstow was in the county of Essex in the 18th Century.  In family history research terms that might be called casting your net widely.  Thankfully I got lucky!

© Society of Genealogists

I went to the Society of Genealogists for their excellent collection of records. The SoG and its library is at 14 Charterhouse Buildings, Goswell Road, London EC1M 7BA - just around the corner from  Barbican tube station.  To use the library you can either buy access time on the day or become a member (pdf form), which I can recommend.  The SoG has some records that are unique to them so this library is a great resource to check out. Have a look at the online catalogue SoGCAT to see what they have. The membership page gives more information on their holdings.

At the time of writing, their current fees are £5, £10 or £18 for 2 hours, 4 hours, or a day pass respectively. The annual subscription of £54 (plus a one-off joining fee of £10) is very good value. If you expect to go more often than three days in a year then being a member really pays off.



I found a marriage record that mentions Walthamstow as the parish of origin for William (and Elizabeth too!), so it is likely to be the correct marriage.  Mary herself did not mention anyone named Stubbing but then she didn't much refer to her husband's family in her will either.  She does list a nephew-in-law, and his sister.  More on them in a later post.

This marriage is at exactly the right time: a year before the oldest son William (Mary's future husband) was baptised in Walthamstow, and in roughly the right place, Essex.  Thaxted (Great Dunmow) is a village located a little North-East of Stansted Airport.  It is 37 miles from Walthamstow.


I don't recall how I found this specific marriage, I may have checked Boyd's Marriage Index, or just gone through all the Essex parishes.  The SoG has very good books on many Essex parishes that contain typed entries presumably transcribed from parish registers.

The marriage information is as follows (not verbatim):

Marriage on 11 Aug 1723 of William Squire and Elizabeth Stubbing - Thaxted, Essex, both of the parish of Walthamstow

Now it is a bit strange that they are both listed as 'of the parish of Walthamstow'.  Because of this phrasing, William must have lived there prior to marrying (I haven't found his origins yet: he wasn't baptised in Walthamstow, his children were), and I am fairly certain that Elizabeth Stubbing was not born in Walthamstow either.  At the London Metropolitan Archives I found a record of her baptism in Thaxted:

Baptism 13 Sep 1698 Elzabeth daughter of Richard and Frances Stubbing

The LMA reference is: ES/R 136 BAP 1660-1812
ES/R 72 also lists their marriage: 11 Aug 1723 William Squire & Elizabeth Stubbin
The family name is usually spelled Stubbings in Thaxted records and occasionally Stubbin.
In the handwritten ES/R 135 volume her name is also given as Stubbin but her first name is even more mangled as: ‘Elzabelh’. Go figure.

The reference to them both being of the parish of Walthamstow must mean that Elizabeth also lived in Walthamstow before she married William Squire Sr.  Thaxted was where she was from and I imagine that they married in Thaxted so her family could attend the wedding.

The marriage in 1723 took place before Elizabeth's 25th birthday (if she was also born in September when her baptism took place).  25 is quite an average age to marry even back then.

I have not found William Squire Sr's baptism.  It looks like he was not originally from Walthamstow and I am still looking for a sign of him and the two cousins I could identify: Henry (Croydon) and Thomas (boxmaker in the City of London). I may have found Thomas's father John who was a fruiterer.  No sign yet of William or Henry's parents.


I found records of two burials in the St Mary Walthamstow register:

William Squire buried 14 May 1742:


I believe that this must be Mary's father-in-law.  If this was William his son then he can't have been Mary's husband because he died in 1763 when he left a will leaving everything to Mary.  I am going with the father-in-law.  It makes sense too.

And Elizabeth Squire buried 23 Sep 1744:



Now this could be husband-to-be William's sister Elizabeth.  That this Elizabeth was not named a widow could potentially point to that.  I don't know if women were only referred to as widows if they had lived by themselves without family.  After her husband's death two years earlier, Elizabeth née Stubbings would have still lived in Walthamstow with her surviving children.  I believe this is the entry of her burial.  I can't know for sure though.


I believe that William moved to gthe city of London after his parents' death but I have not been able to find information on this, let alone when it happened or if any of his siblings moved with him.  He was 20 years old in 1744.

I do know that in 1743 his brother Thomas started an apprenticeship at 15 (a year later than usual) and this is what I'll write about next.


If you are wondering why I am writing about Mary Squire's Almshouses then have a look at this first blog post.

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1 Apr 2017

William Squire's family in Walthamstow

Mary Squire's Almshouses


This is the fifth post in my series reporting my research into Mary Squire's Almshouses in Walthamstow, London, formerly in the county of Essex; and Mary Squire herself. Official name: The Squire's Almshouses.


I last wrote about Mary's will, which mentions her Almshouses in Walthamstow (yay, it's the correct will!), and lists all the people she left money to.  But her will didn't mention her husband's name. I wanted to find the record of their marriage next - but didn't find it until a few weeks ago (in 2017).

I knew that her husband died before 1797 because both her will and the plaque on the Squire's Almshouses name her as widow.  I later found a 1782 entry in a sewage rate book for Queens Row, Walworth that also shows her as a widow.  But what was his first name?

At this point I must admit that I committed a logical leap in who he was and where he was from.

I wanted to find out where the money came from that she used to fund the almshouses (plus the long list of her legacies) and felt it more likely to have come to her from her husband (any money or property a bride brought into a marriage became the husband's in those days anyway) and quite possibly from his family to him.  I think this turned out to be the case for Mary and William.

So committing this leap of faith, I went to Walthamstow, for no other reason than the location of the almshouses, and looked into any Squires family history at the local archive (more info at the National Archives website, or here).  The Walthamstow Local Archive is housed on the top floor of the beautiful Vestry House Museum.  The building used to be the workhouse of the parish of St Mary Walthamstow and can't have been as nice a place back then as it is today.

Back then I was able to look at microfilm of the parish registers for St Mary the Virgin, the mother parish of Walthamstow (today you get to look at digital records), - and found a family of potentially the right ages at the right time. At this time I couldn't know that this is the right family, but I believe so: her husband's name was confirmed as William in his will which I finally found three years later.

The baptism record for William Squire shows the date as 23 Aug 1724:

Wm is indeed short for William

William's younger brother Thomas, baptised on 17 Jan 1727/8.  The reason for the funny year representation is that back in those days January and February were counted as belonging to the year before (here 1727) with the end of the year in March.  By the modern way of considering a year to start in January, this would be Jan 1728:


Given their mother's name, their younger sister was Elizabeth who was baptised on 9 Jan 1729/30:


And the youngest Squire daughter was Anne, baptised on 10 Dec 1731:


This leaves a curious gap between William, the oldest child and son, and Thomas.  It is quite possibly that their mother had miscarriages during those years.

Or perhaps something else that's quite odd happened.  Because I couldn't find any strong sign of a second Squire family in Walthamstow at this time.

Let's just look at this baptism record on 7 Sep 1726 for the moment and consider the name of the child as well as that of both parents:


Hunh. There was a child named Susannah whose father was also named William Squire, just like the father for William (Mary's husband), Thomas, Elizabethe and Anne.  Curious!

Curious and curiouser, the mother's name here is given as 'Susannah' as well, just like the little girl. Is it possible that whoever entered the record into the parish register got distracted and repeated the same female name for the mother that he had just jotted down for the child?

It is not just possible, I reckon that's what happened.

Little Susannah unfortunately died within a few months*.  And just look what the parish register for her burial dated 27 Dec 1726 says about the parents names:


Aha!

It is still potentially possible that there was a second Squire family, also headed by a William (wouldn't that be quite the coincidence?), but where the wife was named Susannah.  On the other hand I did not find any other record for an adult Susannah Squire who could have been little Susannah's mother so don't find the idea of another family persuasive.

This burial was definitely for an infant.  It doesn't say so explicitly but I believe that when small children died they were always listed as son or daughter of... in the record. Just like here.

Plus, where did the Susannah Squire come from who was buried in Dec 1726?  There is no other baptism record for a Susannah whose mother was Elizabeth.  Therefore I conclude that the Baptism entry is not correct and should have said Elizabeth instead.

That fills up the gap between William and Thomas a little bit.  Then that set me thinking: there is still enough time for another child.  What if this baptism on 24 Oct 1727 is another son?


This time it is the father's name that's the problem.  The vicar or curate who repeated the girl child's name for the mother, could have done the same again here: repeating the boy child's name of George in place of the father's name.

By modern reckoning that gives the following list of baptism dates:

23 Aug 1724  William Squire
 7 Sep 1726     Susannah Squire
24 Oct 1727   George Squire (?)
17 Jan 1728   Thomas Squire
 9 Jan 1730    Elizabeth Squire
10 Dec 1731   Anne Squire

It looks like it is very much possible that William and Elizabeth (the elder) had six children.  Little Susannah could have been poorly when she born and not be expected to survive long.  This might be the reason why she was not given her mother's name but the next daughter got the name instead.


I should add now that I have not found further records for three of these children: George, Elizabeth and Anne.  I will keep on the look-out for any marriages and burials but they could have died relatively young, in highly likely a different parish than St Mary Walthamstow.  Double-checking the Walthamstow burial records did not turn up any by 1750, and I think I checked further than that the first time around.

I suspected that sisters Elizabeth and Anne had moved with William (Mary's husband-to-be) to the City of London but I also never found evidence for when William made the move, nor an indication that the sisters lived there.  It is notoriously difficult to find females if there are no apprenticeship records nor recognisable marriages for them.  I will continue to look.  I had disregarded George, I don't know that he is a brother.  I also never found him mentioned again so far.

The next blog post should be shorter:  the marriage of William and Elizabeth senior, i.e. Mary Squire's parents-in-law, as well as what is probably their respective dates of burial.


There is one more thing of note, regarding the * mark: back in those days birth dates were usually not noted.  These are church records that are concerned with church rites: baptisms, marriages and burials.  You can find some registers that will list a date of birth and perhaps a date of death for baptism and burial records but most of the time they don't.  Marriage records from the 18th Century also don't list any further dates for bride and groom, nor their parents names.  Where gravestones survied and are still legible they also don't give the DOB or DOD dates as a matter of course.

The birth date could have been a very short while before (not usually the same day unless baptised privately at home when the child was not expected to survive) or even a long time before. Some siblings who were born a year apart could have been baptised on the same day when parents didn't want to take too much time out of their lives if they had to travel long distances, or for other economic reasons.

The big reason why I wrote about these baptism records at such length is that I hope this may be helpful to someone else out there who is not finding the father's or mother's day they expected: human error is something you need to keep in mind as a possible explanation.

Another tip that I came across that I'd like to pass on: whenever you research your ancestors, do make sure to always 'kill' them off.  What the experts mean by that is that looking for a record of burial or death is a big help to avoid a genealogical pitfall:  you found a person who could be your ancestor but if you overlook that they died when young (too young to have had children themselves) then you waste a lot of time on the wrong person.


If you are wondering why I am writing about Mary Squire's Almshouses then have a look at this first blog post.

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29 Mar 2017

Mary Squire - discovering her will

Mary Squire's Almshouses


This is the fourth post in my series reporting my research into Mary Squire's Almshouses in Walthamstow, London, formerly in the county of Essex; and Mary Squire herself. Official name: The Squire's Almshouses.


I queried the online catalogue of the National Archives in Kew and found a few Mary Squire wills, and one for 1797 that turned out to be the right one.  This was incredibly lucky but then the conditions were right for it to be included (let me know if you want to know more about these conditions).

I paid to initially download the transcript of Mary's will from the National Archives website.  It was very exciting when I could tell that I had found the correct will: it mentions the almshouses in Walthamstow! This was really tremendous and deeply satisfying.  So often you'll find an interesting record but there is no way to be sure that it is the right one.  I copied out the whole text in my previous blog post here.

I had gone wrong before I found the right will because I looked at a will of a Mary Squire in Bedford.  Please don't ask me why I thought that the first Mary Squire will I found could be the right one?  In my defence I can merely say that I literally only just started the research a few days earlier. Very much a novice researcher.  Ahem.  I learned at least this much since then: don't assume.
I am thinking of writing a separate post on the red herrings that I went after, each for a while. It might be amusing and might also help someone who is doing their own research.
The up-the-wrong-garden-path post would show Clerkenwell, King George the III's map collection, a different Mary Squire and husband in the Oxford Street and Kensington area (including a magazine subscription!), some Parrotts and their wills, and a Carter or two. But that's for then, this is now.

The download was of a clerk's transcript - all wills were rewritten in these big ole' ledgers that must be massive: you only get to download/print whatever pages you want, but you don't get access to these ledgers. These have a different code [PROB 11] than the actual original wills [PROB 10 - bundled by first letter of last name].  If you get someone telling you that you CANNOT look at the original then do make sure that whoever you are talking to isn't thinking of the ledgers. You can indeed see the original will if it is at TNA - quote the PROB 10 code reference to try and break through the misunderstanding.

It happened to me and this lady kept arguing with me (I had already seen the will once!). It took me ages to clear up that we were at cross purposes, and her reaction in the end was of being rather miffed that I hadn't been clearer. I guess you get to meet all sorts of people.

Page 1 of Mary Squire's original will

The big reason why I wanted to see her original will, and this justified why I needed to see it, was to see and photograph* Mary's original signature.  That cannot be seen by looking at the transcripts, so I got to handle her actual, real-life will. Wow. I found this really moving and so very thrilling! This is the document that Mary herself handled in 1797!  And that's 220 years ago this year.

The map room is very strict about what they let you walk in with (and obviously that what you walk out with), the security person will let you know. There are more lockers at this level so you don't have to run all the way back downstairs to the main lockers.  Staff there will tell you what you need to do and look out for, and what you can't do.

I must also say that I only realised in the last few weeks how fortunate I was that I found Mary Squire's original will at all and at the National Archives, London. Not all original wills can be found there, many original wills were returned to the executors by the court.  These original wills do not have individual reference numbers, they are bundled by the first letter of the last name. I am extremely lucky that the 'S' bundle yielded her original will!

I was incredibly excited to see her signature and take a photo of it. Here's where a thinking error slipped in that hindered me for a while: I wasn't sure how many people were educated enough to be able to read and write, and do things like sign official documents. I had seen marriage registers that carried a big X mark, but not all that many.


Mary's signature was quite wobbly in the two down strokes: the 'y' of Mary and also the 'q' of Squire.  It didn't look like the signature of someone who was much used to signing her name - I even wondered if she needed to write much in her daily life.  But to think that the wobbliness was related to her level of education was a logical misstep. It made me look for signatures in parish registers where the bride signed her name just as unevenly as she did in 1797.

Wrong. At least I think so. I still need to figure out if I now know her age in 1797, I think she was in her sixties or seventies - she could have easily had a mild stroke or arthritis which made it difficult for her to write evenly.

It is a shame I committed to this assumption at the time, what would turn out to be the beginning of three years looking for the parish register entry of her marriage!  

When I decided to research her I wanted to know all kinds of things about her, where she was born, how old she got, how old she was when she married and where she came from. For that I needed her maiden name which I would only know once I found her marriage record.  And that turned out to be rather difficult and made me spend three years on this project.

I now think that I had come across the right record, I just didn't recognise it at the time. I was still missing the vital bit of information that allows me to identify it now.  More about that later!

My next blog post will be about what I discovered in the parish registers about her husband's family when going to the local Walthamstow archive in the beautiful Vestry House Museum.

*: I am very sorry, my photos of the original will are fuzzy.  I didn't know how to use the macro function properly. This is why I want to go back and revisit this, hopefully a bit later this year.


Research tip:  look at the research guides on the National Archive website. There is a lot of information there that may help you narrow things down, and inform your decision about whether you need to go visit the archive in person.


If you are wondering why I am researching and writing about Mary Squire's Almshouses then take a look at this first blog post.

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16 Feb 2017

The text of Mary Squire's will

Mary Squire's Almshouses


This is the third post in my series reporting my research findings into Mary Squire's Almshouses in Walthamstow, London, formerly in the county of Essex; and Mary Squire herself.

Sorry that this is a very long blog post but Mary Squire wrote a very long will!

© National Archives, Kew

This is the text of Mary's will:

Will of Mary Squire, Widow of Walworth, Surrey 
21 March 1797  PROB 11/1288  [Transcript reference at the National Archives]

This is the last Will and Testament of me Mary Squire of Walworth in the County of Surry Widow I order all my just debts to be first [‘first’ is an insert above the line] paid and I desire to be decently Buried in the Church Yard of Saint Mary Walthamstow in the County of Essex
I give to Jonathan William Stackhouse of East Smithfield London Citizen and Grocer To Joseph Page of Tower Street London Carpenter and to John Capel of Cornhill London Stock Broker their Executors [admors??] and assigns all my Estate and Effects whatsoever and wheresoever not specifically given by me subject to the payment of the pecuniary Legacies by this my Will and which I shall bequeath by any codicil thereto and to the directions hereinafter contained upon the Trusts and for [next page]

the purposes hereafter expressed and declared of and concerning the same (that is to say) [brackets sic] upon Trust immediately after my decease to appropriate or purchase thereout in their Names Seven hundred pounds Bank three pounds per centum Consolidated Annuities and from time to time to pay the Dividends and Income thereof to my Nephew in Law William Squire late Apprentice to Mrs Blakesley in Mark Lane London or permit him to receive the same for and during the term of his natural life and from and immediately after his decease to transfer the said Seven hundred pounds to the Trustees of the fund established for the relief of poor clergymen their widows and children of the County of Essex for the use of that fund and upon further Trust immediately after my decease to appropriate or purchase out of my said Estate and Effects in their names the like Sum of Seven hundred pounds Bank three pounds per centum Consolidated Annuities and from time to time [‘to time’ is an insert above the line] to pay to Elizabeth Cook late Elizabeth Squire Sister to my said Nephew in Law William Squire to and for her own sole and separate use and during the term of her natural life independent of her husband and in no wise liable to his debts Management or Controul the Dividends and Income of the last mentioned Annuities and I will that her receipt alone notwithstanding her coverture [?] shall be a good and sufficient discharge from time to time for the same and from and immediately after [‘after’ is an insert above the line] her decease to transfer the said Seven hundred pounds Annuities to the Trustees of the Society for the relief of the Sons of the Clergy for the use of that Society and upon further Trust immediately after my decease to appropriate or purchase out of my said Estate and Effects in their Names the Sum of three hundred and fifty pounds Bank three pounds per centum Consolidated Annuities and from time to time to pay the Dividends and Interest thereof to Mary Dowsett Widow of George Dowsett late of Low Layton in the County of Surry Butcher or permit her to receive the same for and during the term of her natural life and from and immediately after her decease to transfer the said three hundred and fifty pounds Annuities to the Society for Promoting Religious Knowledge among the Poor where Mrs Richard Watts is now Secretary for the use of such Society and upon further Trust immediately after my decease to appropriate or purchase out of my said Estate and Effects in their Names the like sum of three hundred and fifty pounds Bank three pounds per centum Consolidated Annuities and from time to time to pay the Dividends and Interest thereof to Dorothy Thompson Spinster now or late living in the family of John Roberts Esquire or permit her to receive the same for and during the term of her natural life and from and immediately after her decease to transfer the [next page]

Said last mentioned Sum of three hundred and fifty pounds Annuities to the Kings Head Society for Educating young Men for the Ministry at Hammerton [could be Hanmerton, Haumerton, or Hacimerton, Hasimerton, Horsimerton?] Academy I give to Ann Hester and Agnes Helme Hester of the parish of Saint Mary Newington in the County of Surry Spinsters in equal shares and to the Survivor of them my Thirty pounds per Annum in the fund called the Short Annuities But in case they shall both die before the determination of the said annuity Then I will the same shall fall into my Estate and Effects I give to the said Ann and Agnes Helme Hester and to the Survivor of them the Enjoyment of my Leasehold House with the appurtenances [this means: accessories, trappings, trimmings!] in Queens Row Walworth aforesaid together with the Enjoyment of all my Household Goods and Furniture Plate Linen and China which shall be in or about the same at my decease (except so much thereof as I have already disposed of by any Instrument or paper) [in brackets!] To hold onto the said Ann and Agnes Helme Hester and the survivor of them for and during so long and such part of the Remainder of the term I have in my said House which shall be unexpired at the time of my decease as they or the Survivor of them shall live subject to the Rent and Covenants reserved and contained by and in the Lease whereby I hold the same and I direct that such part of the said term as shall be unexpired at the decease of the Survivor of them together with all my said Household Goods and Furniture Plate Linen and China which shall be then remaining shall into my Estate and Effects I give the following Legacies (vizt) [in brackets] To the said Jonathan William Stackhouse One hundred and Fifty Pounds To Richard Mills Junior Fifty pounds To Thomas Mills Thirty pounds To Elizabeth Lumsden Thirty pounds To Martha Anderson Twenty pounds To Frances Scott Twenty pounds which three last mentioned Legacies shall be for their own sole and separate use independent of and in no wise subject to the Debts receipt Management or Controul of their present or any after taken respective husbands and their receipt alone notwithstanding their coverture shall be a good and sufficient discharge for the same which said Richard Mills Junior  Thomas Mills  Elizabeth Lumsden  Martha Anderson and Frances Scott are five of the Children of Richard Mills Senior by his first wife I give to Henry Mills Senior One hundred pounds to Henry Mills Junior One hundred pounds the said Henry Mills Senior is Son to the said [next page]

Richard Mills Senior by his first wife and the said Henry Mills Junior is Grandson to the said Richard Mills Senior I give to Sarah Mills  Susan Mills  Phillis Mills  Amy Mills  David Mills and William Mills who are six of the children of the said Richard Mills Senior by his second wife ten pounds each To Mary Ann Mills the other child of the said Richard Mills Senior by his second wife one hundred pounds To the said Richard Mills Senior of Morden in the County of Surry farmer One hundred and fifty pounds To Elizabeth Mills Lumsden daughter of the said Elizabeth Lumsden one hundred pounds To Martha Mills wife of the said Richard Mills Senior ten pounds To Sukey Wilton widow of the late William Wilton of Tower Street London ten pounds To my Godsons John Jacob Beltz and Clark Henry Beltz the sons of John Beltz Senior of Carnaby Street London one hundred pounds each which sums I direct to be paid within three Months after my decease unto their said father for their use and if either of my said two Godsons shall die before he attains the age of twenty one years his said Legacy shall go to the Survivor of them and if they shall both die under that age then I give the said two Legacies to their said father whose receipt shall be a good discharge to my Executors for their said two Legacies I give to Tyrrell Herbert Henderson Son of Captain William Henderson one hundred pounds to be paid to him no his attaining the age of twenty one years but if he shall die before he arrives at such age then I will that the said Legacy shall be paid to his Brother Jasper Rollins Henderson on his attaining the age of twenty one years and if they shall both die before they attain such age then I will that this said one hundred pounds shall be paid to their Brother Benjamin Clifton Henderson on his attaining the like age I give to Mary Beltz wife of the aforesaid John Beltz Senior ten pounds To [two words] Cornish of Walworth Surry five pounds Guineas To the Reverend William Crawford five Guineas To the Curate of Saint Mary Walthamstow aforesaid five Guineas [two words] each To the Clerk of the last mentioned parish at my decease two Guineas To Mary Page of Tower Street London Spinster my Gold Watch To my Maid Servant if she shall have lived with me twelve months at my decease ten pounds over and above her wages To the said Joseph Page one hundred pounds and to the said John Capel fifty pounds and I hereby direct that all the Legacies here in before given to such persons as shall be infants [next page]

at the time of my decease (except such as are otherwise directed) shall be as soon as conveniently may be after my decease Invested in Government Securities in the Hands of my Executors upon Trust to transfer the funds in which the said respective Legacies shall be Invested unto the said respective Legatees upon their severally [separately?] arriving at the age of twenty one years or to such other person or persons as shall otherwise be entitled thereto with power for my said Trustees to apply for funds in which the said Legacies shall be invested and the Interest and Dividends thereof or any part thereof respectively towards the respective Maintenance and Education of or for placing out the said Legatees in the world at the discretion of my said Executors and without being answerable for loss arising from any fall of stocks or otherwise which shall be borne by the respective Legatees or other person or persons entitled I give unto the Executors of the aftersaid Society for Promotion  Religious knowledge among the Poor shall [several illegible words here, in margin of page: ‘orig so’] in London twenty pounds to be applied to the uses of the said Society [sic] To the Treasurer of Tower Ward Charity School in London one hundred pounds for the use of the said Charity School To the Treasurer of the five Schools at Kensington Butts in the County of Surry fifty pounds for the use of the said Schools  To the Treasurer of the Charity School of Saint Mary Walthamstow Two hundred pounds for the use of the said Charity School To the Trustees of the Society for the propagation of the Gospel in foreign parts three hundred pounds three pounds per centum Consolidated Bank Annuities for the use of the said Society and I will that my executors shall out of my efforts transfer to the Trustees at my decease of six almshouses lately built by me at Walthamstow Nine hundred pounds three pounds per centum reduced Bank Annuities and Nine hundred pounds three pounds per centum Consolidated Bank Annuities in Trust that they and their successors shall out of the Interest and Dividends arising therefrom pay to each of the six poor widows who are or may be the Inhabitants of the said six almshouses yearly sum of Eight pounds by four equal quarterly payments of forty shillings each which when so added to the five pounds per Annum already settled by me on them will make the sum of Thirteen pounds per Annum to each such widow for ever and upon further Trust to apply from time to time the sum of Six pounds in the Month of October in every Year being the Residue of the Interest  of the said Eighteen hundred pounds three per centum [next page]

Bank Annuities in purchasing coals and to distribute such coals as equally as may be among twelve poor housekeepers of the said parish of Walthamstow who shall not be Inhabitants of any almshouses in the said parish and I desire that the said six poor widows may be of the Communion of the Church of England and no wise dissenting therefrom and that they shall strictly adhere to the printed Rules and orders by me published and I direct that all the duties payable to Government upon the Legacies by me given shall be discharged out of my Effects and not by the respective Legatees and I direct that the said Jonathan William Stackhouse  Joseph Page and John Capel do stand possessed of the Residue of my said Estate and Effects In Trust to apply the same for such Charitable Purposes as they shall think fit and I do hereby appoint the said Jonathan William Stackhouse Joseph Page and John Capel Executors and Trustees of this my last Will and Testament and it is my will that my said Executors and Trustees or any of them shall not be answerable or accountable for any more money than they shall actually respectively receive nor the one of them for the others or other of them nor for any Involuntary loss or damage happening to my Estate and Effects or any part thereof and that they shall respectively from time to time deduct thereout or from the produce thereof all such charges and expenses as they or any of them shall at any time or times sustain in or about the Execution of this my Will or any matter relating thereto and it is my will that in case of any deficiency in my Estate and Effects to answer the payment of the pecuniary Legacies hereby given the parties respectively Interested in such Legacies shall abate in proportion thereto
I revoke all other wills by me formerly made and declare this only to be my last will and Testament In witness thereof I the said Mary Squire the Testatrix have to one part of this my last Will and Testament contained in five sheets of paper set my Hand to the first four sheets thereof and to the last sheet my hand and seal this third Day of February in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety six Mary Squire [‘a squiggle’]
Signed Sealed Published and declared by the said Mary Squire the Testatrix as and for her last Will and Testament in the Presence of us who in her [next page]

presence at her request and in the presence of each other of us have subscribed our Names as Witnesses thereto the Legacy of Twenty Pounds to the Society for promoting Religious Knowledge among the poor being first struck out in the forth sheet
Tho Astley Maberly  Henry Cooper both of Bedford Row

[3rd February 1796]

Whereas  I Mary Squire of Walworth in the County of Surry have by my will dated the third day of February last directed my Executors and Trustees therein named immediately after my decease to appropriate or purchase out of my estate and Effects in their Names the Sum of Three hundred and Fifty Pounds Bank three pounds per centum Consolidated Annuities and from time to time to pay the dividends and Interest thereof to Mary Dowsett Widow of George Dowsett late of Low Leyton in the County of Essex Butcher or permit her to receive the same for and during the term of her natural life and from and immediately after her decease to transfer the said Three hundred and Fifty Pounds Annuities to the Society for the Promoting of Religious Knowledge among the Poor whereof Mr Richard Watts was then Secretary for the use of such Society Now I do hereby revoke the said bequest and directions only as respects the said transfer to the said Society for the Promoting of Religious Knowledge among the Poor for the use of such Society and in lieu thereof I do hereby direct my said Executors and Trustees from and immediately after the decease of the said Mary Dowsett to transfer the said Three hundred and Fifty Pounds Annuities to the Trustees of the Charity established for the benefit of female children of Five Masons in London Road Saint Georges Fields in the County of Surry to be applied to the purposes of that Institution and whereas I have also by my said will (after giving divers other specific Legacies) directed my said Executors and Trustees to stand possessed of the Residue of my Estate and Effects In Trust to apply the same for such Charitable Purposes as they shall think fit Now I do hereby revoke such last mentioned direction and in lieu thereof I desire and direct that my said Executors and Trustees do apply and dispose of the said Residue as follows vizt To Thomas Samuel Vickers of Newington Surry One hundred Pounds To John Beckett of Tower Street London Box Maker Fifty Pounds To Mary Shelton Daughter of Hannah Shelton Widow of Low Layton [sic] Essex Twenty Pounds to be laid out for her benefit in the same manner as I have directed in my Will touching the Legacies thereby given to Infants and the Rest and Residue To the Society of the Thatched House Tavern Saint James’s Street for the Release of [next page]

Poor Debtors confined in Prison for small Debts to be applied to that purpose and I declare this to be a Codicil to my said Will which I confirm in all other respects not hereby revoked or altered In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my Hand and Seal the Eighth day of March in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety six [8 March 1796]
Mary Squire [‘squiggle’ This is a transcribed copy of the original will]

Signed Sealed Published and declared by the said Testatrix Mary Squire as and for a Codicil to her last Will and Testament in the presence of us who at her request in her presence and in the presence of each other have subscribed our Names as Witnesses hereto Tho Astley Maberly, Henry Cooper

This Will  was proved at London with a Codicil the twenty first Day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety seven [21 March 1797] before the Worshipful John Sewell Doctor of Laws and Surrogate of the Right Honourable  Sir William Wynne Knight  also Doctor of Laws Master Keeper or Commissary of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury lawfully constituted by the Oaths of Jonathan William Stackhouse  Joseph Page and John Capel  the Executors named in the said will to whom Administration was granted of all and singular the Good Chattels and Credits of the said deceased having been first sworn duly to administer.

[End of will. The next will transcribed relates to a William Steer]

Legend and colour code:
All [] brackets denote my additions to the text as is. All round brackets () as per text.
Bolded words: the recipients of Mary Squire's money
Red words: information relating to Mary Squire herself
Dark orange: details I found particularly interesting that I hope to write about in more detail
Royal blue: mention of the Squire's Almshouses (i.e. the topic of my research)
Dark brown: witness names who may not be relevant


I am extremely happy that I found her will because it contains such a wealth of information: the people Mary knew and the causes she cared about. It also says a lot about her as a person (particularly the bits I marked in orange and red).  I am looking forward to unpacking as many of the details in her will as I can. The intriguing thing is that you keep finding more aspects worthy of investigation the more you go through this wonderfully detailed will!

I am glad to note the mention of her Walthamstow almshouses and that they are for six poor widows - those details confirm decisively that this is the correct will.  Which is nice because you can't ever be completely sure if you found the correct record if not for confirmation of specific information like this.

Next I will probably write about how I came to find her will and a little bit what a visit to the National Archives in Kew is like.


If you are wondering why I am researching Mary Squire's Almshouses then check out this first blog post.

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13 Feb 2017

What does 'decayed' mean?

Mary Squire's Almshouses


This is the second post in my series reporting my research findings into Mary Squire's Almshouses in Walthamstow, London, formerly in the county of Essex; and Mary Squire herself.

The almshouses plaque in question is this:

The official name is The Squire's Almshouses

So what does 'decayed' mean? And not just decayed on its own, but decayed tradesmen? Or actually their widows.

We can safely say that in this context the word 'decayed' was not used in the modern meaning of "to fall into disrepair or deteriorate", - let alone the other definition relating to rotten food.

A definition from Dictionary.com is closer: "to decline in excellence, prosperity, health, etc.; deteriorate". The Late Middle English source of decay is based on Latin 'decidere': to fall down or to fall off.

The word was quite in use, if not in vogue. For example it was used in context of two other almshouses: those in Putney provided by an Abraham Dawes (d. 1640) for 'twelve poor indigent decayed and decreped almsmen and almswomen', and also for Stepney almshouses built 1695 by the Corporation of Trinity House, on land provided by Captain Henry Mudd, "for 28 decayed Masters of Ships or their widows."  These are from a summary at London Footprints.

A book about the Squire's Almshouses suggests that 'decayed' here is: 'used in the sense of “declined in wealth"' (A.D. Law. 'Walthamstow Village An Account of Church End – the historic centre of Walthamstow'. Walthamstow Historical Society, 1996), but the author does not quote a source.

An older dictionary published in 1845 may be more helpful. It lists the verb 'Decay' as: "to lose excellence; to decline; to impair", and as noun: "decline; gradual failure". Very helpfully it also describes 'Decayedness' as state of decay. The book title is a bit of a mouthful: 'A dictionary of the English language : containing the pronunciation, etymology, and explanation of all words authorized by eminent writers : to which are added, a vocabulary of the roots of English words, and an accented list of Greek, Latin, and Scripture proper names'


If you like you can also look up what the Online Etymology Dictionary has to say about the word 'decay', but I didn't find it all that illuminating.

This Thesurus from 1875 suggests (amongst others not shown) a link to 'unhealthy' in its grouping (i.e. unsound, sickly, poorly, infirm, lame, battered... even decrepit):


I feel happy thinking that 'decayed' here means a decline in fortune and perhaps also in health.  It could have been understood as 'destitute'. When I first researched this, I came up with and remembered since: 'fallen on hard times through no fault of their own', but I can now not find the source for this understanding?!  Note to self: I should have made better notes; must jot down sources!

If anyone has an insight and more expert understanding, please let me know!

I do find it fascinating that even though this word was used extensively, it now no longer means what it must have been understood as at the time. It is also intriguing how difficult it is to find out exactly how this word was used up to the end of the 18th century.

Language adapts and changes all the time. It has to because the world around us changes and we use language to make sense of our world and to communicate our understanding to others. No wonder that some words fall out of favour whereas others dip to the surface of widespread public discourse. Fascinating.


If you want to know why I am researching and writing about Mary Squire's Almshouses then take a look at this blog post.

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10 Feb 2017

The Squire's Almshouses in Walthamstow


I have long wanted to do some kind of research: figuring out a research topic that fascinates me and get the opportunity to use archives and libraries. And then write about it.  I did have something 'historical' in mind, I fell in love with genealogy and was utterly fascinated by house history detective work (as glimpsed on tv).

I can't research ancestors because a grandfather and uncle respectively (see where I get that from?) have already done the work. But finding out more about the history of a house and the people who lived in it?!  Now that sounds fascinating, and very much something I can do.  Give my brain something to work on.

When I thought about what subject I wanted to pick first, I remembered this photo I had taken in Walthamstow, East London:


The text reads: "These houses were erected and endowed for ever by Mrs Mary Squires [sic] Widow for the use of six decayed tradesmens widows of this parish and no other A.D. 1795" (I am taking slight liberties with the spelling).

And wouldn't I just love to launch into my findings right here and now!

I'll allow myself this one remark: 'Squires' is actually the wrong spelling of her name, Mary's last name was not Squires. I found her will [link to text] and also the parish register record of her burial. There is no 's' there.

What I think may have happened is that the plaque was either put up at some point after the almshouses were first built and/or by someone not familiar with the spelling of her name. She did live quite a distance away in Walworth and we will never know if the unknown plaque maker would have had contact with her (she died in 1797), even though he surely must have had written instructions?

But these almshouses were probably being referred to locally as "The Squire's Almshouses" and I imagine that's how the 's' got in there.  Also: back in those days people didn't bother with silly little things like apostrophes that much, - spelling of names in general was sometimes a bit all over the place. Though from what I can tell is that by the late 18th Century name spelling was already a lot more establish than a century earlier.

It suffices to say that the foundress's name was indeed Squire. It's good to know something for sure.

Even the street name includes the apostrophe
I spent a good three years researching Mary and the building, much longer than I had planned. I was going to put three months into it!  And considering the effort and sheer length of time I invested in this personal project of mine, I do want to have something to show for it: something written on pages somewhere.

So here we are.

I am going to put up one Mary Squire/Almshouse related blog post for any subject or person and their history as makes for a good segment of the story.  I have looked into family history, found out a little about life in the mid to late 18th Century, social mores, and also a bit about the locality.  I must emphasise though that I am doing this as an amateur researcher for my own amusement. You are welcome to let me know mistakes. Just be gentle.

I hope you'll enjoy this series of posts.

My second post will be about what 'decayed' in this context means. I'm sure you'll agree that this is a nice little teaser to lure you into looking for the next bit!  Enjoy.


I would like to research more projects in future, so I will make sure to tag each post with 'Mary Squire's Almshouses'. I also hope to link many posts with the others where it merits it.

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