Will of William Fairchild 1711

"my Worldly Estate which God of his infinite goodness has blessed me with"

By David Miller

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Commentary.

The Fairchilds were a wealthy family. In 1664, they were assessed as having no less than eleven hearths upon which they had to pay tax, and a further eight hearths in another property in their name. This was far more than any other family in Orwell, and it is perhaps unlikely to have been a single house which had all those fireplaces. However, the house which William occupied (according to the Chicheley Map) had the unusual luxury of three hearths in the upstairs rooms as well as the three hearths below. Since commercial hearths (other than bread ovens) were also subject to the tax, one wonders whether they had several blacksmiths forges, or maybe a malting house and a brewery as well. Individual houses which were rented out were usually listed separately.

It seems that all this wealth did not result in family harmony, however. Thomas, one of the sons, was 'cut off with a shilling,' in this Will (usually a mark of strong parental disapproval) and so was one of the daughters, perhaps because she had broken away from the family to get married and live in London.

William had sufficient land in three different parishes to be able to give each of his sons what we must assume was a reasonable holding, and he provided for his wife by giving her a substantial life interest. William gave his son (also William) his lands in Orwell parish, but perhaps the younger William did not make a success of his landholding, because in another Orwell will, that of John Merry, in 1738, reference is made to land in Orwell 'late Fairchild.' Maybe William the younger had died by then; there is a burial recorded in 1717. There are a number of other family documents held in the Cambridge Record Office which are worthy of study.

Note the firm signature of the Testator. Here was a man used to writing, and had probably had a good education. He was described as "Gent." in the Hearth Tax Returns. One of the witnesses, Martha, could only manage a very shaky letter M.

The Will is sufficiently modern for the handwriting to be easy to read, although there are still a few traces of the older style of writing - the long 's' which looks like an 'f'; the use of a double 'f' to make the capital letter 'F'; and the use of 'ye' in the sense of 'the.'  This last is unusual, in that ye was almost always used in the sense of 'you,' as in 'come all ye faithful.' The, in the old style of handwriting, used the archaic letter 'thorn,' which was a 't' and an 'h' run together and looking a little like the letter 'y' with a flourish on the tail. This was misinterpreted as 'ye' (as in Ye Olde Tea Shoppe) but really has to be transcribed as 'the.' But by the date of this will, 'ye' had become an acceptable alternative to 'the.'

William died in 1714, and probate of the Will was granted in 1715.

 

Transcript of Will of William Fairchild 1711

In the Name of God Amen. I William Fairchild of Orwell in the County of Cambridge gent being in perfect health of Body and of sound and disposed mind Memory and understanding (praised be to allmightye God for ye same) do make this my last Will and testament in Mannor and forme following, that is to say,  first I commend my soule into ye hands of Allmity God my Creator, and my body I commit to ye earth to be decently buried at ye discretion of my Execitrix, hereinafter named, and as for my Worldly Estate which God of his infinite goodness has blessed me with all I give and devise thereof as Followeth (that is to say) Inprimis All my Copyhold Messuages lands tenements and hereditaments situate and being in Foxton in ye said Countye of Cambridge with there and every of there appurteynances I give and devise unto my dear and loving Wife Mary for and during ye terme of hir natural life and from and after hir decease I give and devise ye same unto my sonn John Fairchild his heirs and assigns forever. Item I give and bequeath unto ye said Mary my Wife those nine acres of Freehold arable land more or less lying disperced in ye common Fields of Orwell aforesaid which I lately purchased of Ambrose Bening gent for and during ye terme of hir naturall life, and after hir decease then I give and devise ye same unto my sonne William Fairchild his heirs and assigns for ever. Item I give and devise all my Copyhold lands tenements and hereditaments whatsoever in Orwell aforesaid with there and every of there apperteynances unto my said sonn William Fairchild his heirs and assigns for ever. Item I give all my Copyhold Messuages lands tenements hereditaments what so ever in Bassingbourne in ye said County of Cambridge and holden of ye Mannor of Bassingbourne Richmond with all and singular ye appurtenances and devise unto my sonn Richard Fairchild his heirs and assigns for ever. Item I give and bequeath unto my sonn Thomas Fairchild ye sum of one shilling to be paid by my Executrix herein after named within six months next after my decease. Item I give and bequeath unto my daughter Sarah ye Wife of Robert Allder of Moneyers hall in ye Tower of London ye sum of one shilling, to be paid by my Executrix within six months next after my decease, Item I give and bequeath unto my daughter Mary ye Wife of John Edridge of Buntingford ye sum of five pounds of lawfull money of Great Britaine to be paid by my Executrix herein after named within six months next after my decease, Item I give unto my daughter Rebecca ye wife of George maling of Linton ye sum of five pounds of like lawfull money of Great Britaine to be paid by my Executrix herein after named within six months next after my decease, all ye rest and residue of my goods Chattels and personal Estate what so ever and wheresoever) not herein before bequeathed) I give and bequeath unto my said Wife Mary whom I make whole and sole Executrix of this my last Will and Testament, hereby revoking all former Wills by me made, in witness whereof to this my last Will and testament I have sett my hand and seale the third day of Aprill in ye tenth yeare of the Reigne of our soveraigne Lady Anne by ye grace of God Queene of Great Britaine Anno Dominie 1711

 

Signed sealed published and declared

By the above named William Fairchild                                   William Fairchild  LS

ye Testator, in ye presance of us, whose names

are subscribed as witnesses hereunto

 

Robert Howard

Mary Adams                Martha Rust   M hir mark

This page was added by David Miller on 25/03/2013.

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