In the name of God Amen. The three and twentieth day of July Anno Domini one thousand seven hundred and four, I, William Brydges the Elder of Old Colwall in the parish of Colwall in the County of Hereford Gent being of sound memory do make and ordain my last Will and Testament in manner and form following. First I commit and commend my soul to Almighty God my creator and to his dear son, Jesus Christ, my blessed Saviour and Redeemer by whose bitter death and passion and glorious resurrection I steadfastly believe and hope to be saved and made partaker and inheritor with the rest of the blessed and elect children of God of his most glorious and everlasting kingdom of heaven. And as to my body I commit to the earth there to receive decent interment between the Monument of my deceased father and the wall of the Church of Bosbury near to the said tomb of my said father (if convenient room may be there had) otherwise on the other side of my said father and grandfather’s Monument in the churchyard of Bosbury and that only a plain stone be placed over my body and theretofore engraved such inscription as my cousin Mr. Francis Brydges and my son, William Brydges, shall think fit and that the memorial of my grandfather and father and the stone to be laid over me be railed with small iron bars to preserve the same from being broken and abused. And my grave I would have steened1 with brick on all parts thereof.
As for my worldly goods wherewith Almighty God in his mercy hath blessed me withall I give and dispose of in manner and form following. First I will that all such debts that I shall owe to any person or persons at the time of my decease be fully paid to them within three months after my decease. And whereas by the last Will and Testament of my deceased father twenty pounds is therein given to my niece Mary Harford to be hers at the age of eighteen years with interest at the rate of four pound per cent which said debt and interest does now remain unsatisfied, now my will is that the said legacy of twenty pounds be paid her within six months after my decease with interest for the same at the rate of five pound per cent from the time of my said deceased father’s death to the time aforesaid and what the interest the said twenty pound shall be wanting to make up fifty pound I give to my said niece so much money as with the said twenty pound and interest thereof shall make her up fifty pound good money to be paid her within the time aforesaid.
Item I will that on the second or third Sunday after my decease three pounds be doled to the poor of Colwall, to the poor of Coddington the same time twenty pounds, to the poor of Bosbury three pound ten shillings the same time, to the poor of Mathon one pound ten shillings, to the poor of Ledbury the same time three pounds ten shillings, to the poor of Dymock two pounds ten shillings the same time and that each householder within the said several and respective parishes shall have at least twelve pence apiece and some more according to their families and wants in which due regard is desired to [be] had.
Item I give devise and bequeath two hundred pounds good money to my Trustees and Overseers of this my last Will in trust nevertheless and to the intent use and purpose that my said Trustees and Overseers together with my said sons, William, John and Thomas Brydges shall as soon as a convenient purchase may be had, imploy, use, purchase and buy with the said two hundred pounds so much freehold Land of Inheritance as they agree for that sum in their names and of my said sons, William, John and Thomas Brydges and their heirs and that, in such deed of purchase that my said sons together with the Trustees shall stand seized of the said freehold lands to these uses viz. that they with the yearly rents and profits for ever shall employ and bestow the same in buying coarse cloth hose and shoes to clothe yearly upon St Thomas’ day so many poor, aged and laborious people of the said parish of Bosbury and such who do not receive alms and pay out of the said parish of Bosbury but have demeaned2 themselves by their honest labour without filching and stealing from their neighbours and are frequenters of the Church and Communicants of the body and blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ at the least once in every year and that the said coats, hose and shoes be made and disposed of yearly at the time aforesaid to such persons as my said sons and Trustees shall yearly see most fit and proper in the said parish to imploy and bestow the same upon and qualified accordingly as herein before is declared.
And my Will is that when two or more of my said sons and Trustees shall die that the survivors of them shall make a new feoffment of the said lands to the uses aforesaid in which feoffment some of my grandsons and relations then living shall be nominated feoffees with two or more of the most substantial freeholders of the said parish to the end intent and purpose that the same charity may be imployed for ever according to the true intent and meaning hereof and that due regard is desired to be had that the same charity may not be bestowed on such or whereby the parishioners and freeholders of the said parish may in anywise eased for contributing or paying their loans or assessments to the poor of the said parish. And my will is that until such time as a convenient purchase may be had the interest of the said two hundred pounds be imployed and paid by my executors and to the use aforesaid at the rate of five pounds per cent.
Item I likewise give and devise eighty six pounds good monies to the Trustees and Overseers of this my last Will in trust nevertheless and to the intent use and purpose that my Trustees and Overseers aforesaid together with my said sons William, John and Thomas shall as soon as convenient purchase may be had purchase and buy with the said eighty and six pounds so much freehold land of inheritance as they can agree for that sum in their names and their heirs. And that in such deed of purchase it be declared that my said sons together with the said Trustees shall stand and be seized of the said Lands to these uses viz. that they with the yearly rents issues and profits thereof for ever shall imploy and bestow the same in buying bread for ten poor people and housekeepers and inhabitants of the parish of Colwall and Coddington only two whereof I would have of the parish of Coddington and who are constant frequenters and come to the church every Sunday in the year (unless prevented by distress) and are, at least once in a year, Communicants of the body and blood of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in the parish church in Colwall and Coddington to be distributed every Sunday our Lord’s Day in the year by ten two-penny loaves of bread to the poor housekeepers and inhabitants of the said parishes by the Minister and Churchwardens of the said parish with the advice consent and directions of my said son William Bridges, his heirs and assigns for ever (if residing in the said parish of Colwall or any other relation of mine there residing). And my will is that, if two or more of my said sons and Trustees shall die, that the survivors of them shall make a new feoffment of the said lands to the uses last mentioned in which feoffment so to be continued and reneweth for ever. Some of my grandsons and relations then living [together] with the Minister and two of the most substantial freeholders of the said parishes shall be nominated and appointed feoffees to the uses therein before last mentioned and expressed to the end, intent and purpose that the same charity may be imployed and continued for ever and that due regard be had that the same charity may not be bestowed upon such or whereby the parishioners, freeholders, tenants or others of the said parishes may be in any wise freed or eased for contributing or paying their Loans or Assessments to the relief of such poor people whose poverty requires relief out of the said parishes and that such poor people of the said parishes as receive weekly pay out of the said parishes be wholly exempted from receiving the said weekly charity. And my will is that until such time as a convenient purchase may be had the interest of the said eighty and six pounds be imployed and paid by my executors to the uses aforesaid after the rate of five pound per cent.
Item I give devise and bequeath unto my son John Brydges his heirs and assigns for ever all that my freehold messuage or tenement, lands, tenements, hereditaments and premises thereunto belonging lying in the parish of Bosbury aforesaid called and known by the name of Hall Place otherwise Hopplace and was heretofore purchased of John Watkins of Bosbury aforesaid as a further addition of this portion and to the messuage and lands called the Razes I have already settled upon him assigning and adjoining thereto to hold to the said John Brydges, his heirs and assigns for ever. Also I give devise and bequeath unto the said John Brydges, his heirs and assigns for ever one parcel of land lying on the top of Bacon [now Beacon] Hill and heretofore purchased of Richard Beard and others and now in the possession of James Farmer and used with The Noverends [now The Noverings] in Bosbury aforesaid to hold to the said John Bridges, his heirs and assigns for ever. Also I give unto my said son John Brydges all the estate, right, title and interest which I have of, into or out of The Noverends aforesaid and of which I am in anywise intitled to during the natural life of my sister Elizabeth Holmes to hold to the said John Brydges during the natural life of my said sister Holmes under the rents, covenants and agreements I hold the same of and from my kinsman Mr. Francis Brydges. Item whereas I and my said deceased father, Thomas Brydges, have been for many years last past seized and possessed of meadow containing somewhat above an acre lying in Bosbury aforesaid and now used with the Noverends aforesaid in the possession of James Farmer and heretofore purchased of [space] Brookin[g] of Bosbury aforesaid and the writings to manifest my title thereto being lost or mislaid that I am not certain whether the said meadow ground is either freehold or copyhold land and that the same may descend and come to my son John Brydges if the same at any time hereafter shall appear to be freehold land then I do hereby give, devise and bequeath the aforesaid meadow ground to my said son John Brydges, his heirs and assigns for ever to hold to the said John Bridges his heirs and assigns for ever. And whereas I have surrendered the said meadow ground into two tenants hands of the Manor of Bosbury, being not satisfied whether the same is freehold land, together with certain copy lands lying in Bosbury Southfields and some parcels of meadow or pasture ground thereto adjoining and now in the possession of James Powell of whose ancestors these last mentioned lands were purchased. Now my will is and I do hereby direct and appoint that the said surrender of the said lands shall be at the next count after my decease testified to the use of my said son John Bridges and the sons of him according to the custom of the said manor.
Item whereas there was due to my late Mother-[in]-Law3, Mrs. Catherine Brydges, four hundred pounds and which, by a declaration under my hand and seal, I have declared to be her proper money one hundred sixty five pounds thirteen Shillings besides one hundred and twenty pounds for renewing of the lease of the desmesne lands of Colwall and Coddington with the Bishop of Hereford’s parcel thereof has been since paid to her and order by me and which four hundred pounds is parcel of the consideration money upon Goldhill in the parish of Bosbury as also that there was due to her several other sums of money and secured by bond taken in my name and her own name. And whereas she died intestate having in her lifetime declared that my wife, her daughter, Ursula Brydges should after her death give and dispose of the same three hundred pounds and other monies to and amongst her sons John, Thomas and Richard Brydges. And whereas I have paid to my Mother-in-law fifty eight pound four shillings in her lifetime and also since her death I paid for her funeral one hundred and eight pound as appears by a particular thereof and otherwise since her death I have paid to the Bishop of Hereford for renewing the lease of the desmesne lands of Colwall and Coddington by adding two lives thereto which cost me above one hundred and twenty pounds which she should have done. Now in pursuance of such intention of my said Mother-in-law, I will that my dear and loving wife shall give the said monies to and amongst her said three younger sons and grandson Thomas Brydges and that she receive and take the interest thereof during her life only in this respect that my said sons John and Richard have an equal share and dividend of the said money. And for want of my wife’s giving and disposing of the said monies to and amongst her grandson, Thomas Bridges, second son of the said William Bridges my eldest son, and her said sons John, Thomas and Richard then I do hereby give and bequeath the said money to and amongst my said grandson Thomas and my said sons John, Thomas and Richard Brydges to be equally divided amongst them and I will that my said dear and loving wife do give my Trustees her security by bond for the performance and disposing of the said monies according to the true intent and meaning of this my last Will and Testament.
Item I give and bequeath unto my eldest son William Brydges and Elizabeth his wife ten pounds apiece to buy them mourning and also I give to my said son all such tuns, pipes, hogsheads, barrels, skeeles, wains, waggons, ploughs and other tack of team I lent him sometime after his intermarriage together with such beds and other household stuff he has had of me with the hangings and pictures as are in the dwelling house I now live in as also two of my best cows he now and for many years past has had in his possession. Item I give unto my son, John Brydges, ten pounds to buy him mourning and the bed and bedding with other furniture in the best chamber I now live in, after his mother’s decease. Item I give unto my son Thomas Bridges and Margaret his wife ten pounds apiece to buy them mourning and the bed, bedding and other furniture in the kitchen chamber they usually lodge in, after his mother’s decease. Item I give unto my son Richard Bridges, as a further addition to his portion, seven hundred and fifty pounds as also ten pounds to buy him mourning together with the bed, bedding and other furniture in the chamber I usually lodge in, after his mother’s decease. Item I will that my wife hold the messuage wherein I now live with the garden, orchard, slade and the meadow called Cunow? Meadow during her natural life as by Articles of Agreement on my son William’s marriage is mentioned and reserved. And likewise I give to my loving wife all such goods household stuff as she shall desire or have occasion to use during her natural life and widowhood she giving such security to my Overseers hereafter named as they shall think fit that this true value on such part thereof as she shall make choice of from and after the time of her decease or intermarriage which shall first happen to come may come to my said sons John Thomas and Richard Bridges to be equally divided between them and to whom I give all the aforesaid goods household stuff and plate. Item I give to my cousin Marshall Bridges and his sons William, Marshall, Edmund and Kemp gold rings of the value of thirteen shillings four pence. To my in-laws Mr. Richard Dalton, Mr. John Moreton my kinsman Mr Edmond Bridges of Lincoln’s Inn and his son Richard Brydges, to my kinsman Mr. William Brydges of London, linen draper, to my nephew Mr Richard Browne, Mr Pennoyre, Mr Bodenham mourning gold rings of the value. To my sister Holmes ten pounds to buy her mourning. To my godson, my nephew Brown’s son, and his eldest son to each of them five pounds apiece. To my god-daughter, my nephew Pennoyre’s daughter, five pounds. To my cousin Handcock’s daughter five pounds. To my kinsman Acton Brydges five pounds and my second best suit of clothes throughout and to his father, Mr Edward Brydges of Ross, my best suit of clothes throughout and my kinsman Mr. John Beard my best beaver hat. Also I give and devise and bequeath unto my grandson Richard Brydges his heirs and assigns for ever two parcels of meadow ground the one lying in Ann or Catley Rey and which I am intreating and agreeing for the purchase thereof with my nephew Bodenham and if it should happen that I should not purchase the same then I give to him in lein [lieu?] thereof fifty pounds, all which legacies I would have paid within twelve months next after my decease.
All the rest and residue of my goods cattle, chattels and other personal estate herein not before given and bequeathed, I give to
and amongst my said three sons John, Thomas and Richard Brydges whom I make joint Executors of this my last Will. And I do
earnestly desire my loving kinsmen Francis Brydges and Robert Unett Esquires to whom I give two ... pieces of gold to each as also
mourning rings of twenty shillings each to be Trustees or Overseers of this my last Will and in all things to see the same
performed. And I will that what doubts may in anywise arise touching anything contained in this my last Will that they do determine
the same according to the true intent and meaning of this my last Will and Testament given under my hand and seal the day and year
in the first within written sheet of paper named W: Brydges. I sign, seal, publish and declare this to be my last Will and
Testament in the presence of./
WHICH day appeared John Oldfield of New Inn in the County of Middlesex, gent, and being sworn on the Holy Evangelists to depose
the truth does say and depose that he was well acquainted with William Brydges, late of Old Colwall in the County of Hereford,
gent deceased, and with his character or manner of handwriting and has been imployed by him in several suits of law and has
received many letters from him and has seen him write and having perused the two sheets of paper hereunto annexed purporting
the last Will and Testament of the said deceased beginning thus In the name of God Amen the three and twentieth day of July
Anno domini one thousand seven hundred and four and ending thus given under my hand and seal the day and year in the first
within written sheet of paper and the name “William Brydges” subscribed to each sheet of paper does verily believe the same
to be all wrote with the proper handwriting of the said William Bridges the testator saving the words three and twentieth
July in the first line and the words and form following at the latter end of the tenth line of the said will and the
word rey in the second sheet of the said Will. John Oldfield
[In Latin] The same day
the said John Oldfield was sworn as to the truth of the above. Raynes
Probate granted in London on 16 December 1704 to John Brydges, Thomas Brydges and Rychard Bridges, executors, by Master Richard Raines.
1 lining the excavation
2 The 1819 Charity Commissioner’s Report has ‘maintained’ here.
3 Catherine was his step-mother (see family tree below)