Saturday, November 5, 2011

Will of John Rew dated 4 Jan 1840 and probated 10 Mar 1848 - Source: The National Archives - PROB 11/2072 - Image Reference 51/38

The will of John Rew was my first introduction to transcription of wills. I had been trying rather unsuccessfully to find parents for Elizabeth Rew who married John Pincombe at Bishops Nympton 9 Jan 1834. She was reputed to be a school teacher at Bishops Nympton was the only extra information that I had to go on. Plus from the census I knew she was around eight years older than John (33 years of age when she married John in 1834). They had five children John (b 1834), William Robert (b 1837 and my ancestor), Elizabeth Anne (b 1839), Richard (b 1842) and Louisa (b 1844). With the Pincombe family I could often use names to help me with the parent quest but this set of parents appeared to do their own thing although William Robert carried the name of John's father Robert (William is a very common Pincombe forename and the name of the brother next in age to John who had died as a 15 year old in 1825. Elizabeth was the name of John's mother (Anne is still somewhat of a mystery), Richard was a surprise and reaches back a long way in the Pincombe family except one of John's brothers was also Richard. Louisa is simply an unusual name in the Pincombe family.

A couple of clues perhaps I thought at the time were the two names Anne and Louisa. Neither proved to be useful in my quest. There were Rew families in the Bishops Nympton area but none had a daughter Elizabeth who fitted the time frame. The witnesses on the marriage registration proved to be the most help although it wasn't until I purchased the Bishops Nympton fiche that I knew those names. Thomas Rew and Robert Nurcombe were the witnesses. I found a Thomas Rew on the 1851 census at Sheepwash and his place of birth was amazingly Selworthy Somerset. At this point I should have put the Rew and Nurcombe families together and did try. I purchased the census for Somerset (before indexes were available!) and tried that method but a lot of people lived in Somerset in the area of Selworthy.

It was about that time that I had the notion of looking at wills for the Rew family and discovered the will of John Rew probated 10 Mar 1848 at  Bishops Nympton, Devon and at that time I had family lore that told me the John Pincombe/Elizabeth Rew family emigrated to Canada in 1848. Family lore can be very good and it can really throw you off the traces. In this case, it was somewhat helpful as I had this family coming to Canada in 1848 at what appeared to be a time after a father might have just passed away. I bought the will and it was my first purchase of wills from the National Archives (UK) website. It was so easy and straightforward and there was my will right in front of me just 3 pounds 50 pence later! The will though was difficult to read I thought initially but a quick scan gave me the name Elizabeth Pincombe. My first Eureka moment I think! Time has passed by and I can not now remember if that was the first but it must have been close.

Now that will is fairly easy to read but a lot of transcription has passed under the bridge for me plus my palaeography course which was really the eye opener for me. Up until that time I would have to leave out words with the old style of letters and work on each one individually. Once I took the course I could skim wills quickly and get the gist much more comfortably than before.

I had the father of Elizabeth Rew and a clue in the will that told me his wife was buried at Selworthy and he wanted to be buried there as well (he had been living at Sheepwash Farm near Bishops Nympton). More digging into the records and I found the marriage of John Rew and Elizabeth Siderfin and once found I quickly discovered that they had a daughter Elizabeth (actually two daughters born on that day so twins with Charlotte being the other daughter).

I then discovered a book on the Siderfin Family of West Somerset and thanks be to God there was my ancestress Elizabeth Siderfin in the book named as Elizabeth Rew in a will. It was my first real introduction to wills and I was hooked. Wills have become very much one of my leading research tools but I do realize that I am lucky to find so many wills but actually wills were left by people from all walks of life. One of my older wills was written by a shepherd in Wiltshire in 1610 so do not forget wills just because your people may have been agricultural labourers. They may have left a will as William Peck did at Milston Wiltshire.

The will opened up an entire family line starting with Elizabeth Rew my 2x great grandmother. I met descendants of all of her siblings on line at Genes Reunited. Elizabeth was the only one in her family to emigrate with all the rest remaining in England to this day.

The Nurcombe family was certainly a hint as well. Ann Siderfin (sister to Elizabeth Siderfin) married John Nurcombe and the census of 1841 revealed an amazing group at her home. I shall relate that one later.

This will also made me rethink the Pincombe family. I knew that John had come to Canada and purchased a farm for 750 pounds and did have the thought that Elizabeth had inherited money that then let them come to Canada. This was not the case at all. John himself sold his property in Devon and used that cash to fund their trip and buy the new farm in Canada. That set me to looking at Pincombe wills with an eye to following the properties which proved to be most useful in sorting out the Pincombe families in my direct and collateral lines back.

The will of John Rew (my 3x great grandfather):

Recorded: 21 May 2005
Source: The National Archives - PROB 11/2072 - Image Reference 51/38
Place: Sheepwash, Bishops Nympton, Devon, England
Type of record: Will – John Rew, Yeoman, Bishopsnympton
Dated: 4 Jan 1840 (Probated 10 Mar 1848)
Read: Electronic File
Copy: bold, late 18th century writing

1 This is the last Will and Testament
2 of me, John Rew, of Bishops Nympton in the County of Devon, Yeoman. First I desire
3 that my body may be privately and decently interred without any funeral pomp and at as
4 little expense as possible in the Church yard belonging to the Parish of Selworthy in the coun
5 ty of Somerset and as near to the remains of my late wife as can be. I give and bequeath unto
6 each and everyone of my daughters Mary Watts Sarah May Charlotte Griffith and Eliza
7 beth Pincombe the sum of five pounds of lawful money of Great Britain and I direct
8 that the same Legacies shall be payable and paid by my executor hereinafter named at
9 the end of six months next after my decease Also I give devise and bequeath unto my son
10 Thomas Rew his heirs executors administrators and assignes All my real estate goods or
11 chattels Personal Estate and property whatsoever and wheresoever subject ne
12 vertheless to and charged with the payment of all my just debts the expences of my funeral
13 and of proving this my will and the said pecuniary Legacies To hold the same (subject
14 and charges as aforesaid) unto and to the use of my said son Thomas Rew his heirs exec
15 utors administrators and assignes for ever Thus I hereby nominate institute and appoint
16 my said son Thomas Rew sole Executor of this my last will and testament And Lastly
17 I hereby revoke and make void all other wills by me heretofore made In witness whereof
18 I the said John Rew (the Testator) have hereunto subscribed and set my hand and seal
19 this fourth day of January in the year of our Lord one thousand and eight hundred and
20 forty – John Rew [signed] [his seal] – Signed Sealed Published and Declared by the said
21 John Rew (the Testator) as and for his last will and testament in the presence of us present
22 at the same time who at his request in his presence and in the presence of each other
23 have hereunto subscribed our names as witness thereto – J G Pearse [signed]
24 J Galliford [signed]
25 Proved at London 10th March 1848 for the Judge by the oath of Thomas
26 Rew the son the sole Executor to whom Admon was granted having been first sworn
27 by Commission duly to administer

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