We are delighted to announce that thanks to the fantastic work of volunteers, our 100 Wills Project, has exceeded all expectations and 114 have been transcribed to date. The wills which date from 1555 to 1857 provide a fascinating insight into social history and family relations of the St.John family who owned Lydiard Park and the people living and working in around their estate at Lydiard Tregoze.
The Project was launched in 2021 and seemed an ideal activity during lockdown, as all the wills could be viewed online in the comfort of home. Project leader, Dr Lynda Pidgeon says:
‘Our small but dedicated group of volunteers are doing a marvelous job. We have been able to identify 245 wills so far, which was greatly helped by the National Archive’s initiative to offer free downloading during the Covid 19 period. Of these 245, 114 have been transcribed twice and 53 checked and uploaded to The Lydiard Park Archives.
Wills can tell us such a lot, not just about the testator, but their family and some of the things they owned. You may get a glimpse of how they dressed, how they decorated their homes or even what they thought of their family.’
The will of wealthy widow, Elizabeth Wells of Lydiard Tregoze (1618), is full of such detail. After leaving modest sums of money to St. Mary’s Church and the poor of the parish and rather more substantial amounts to members of the family she continues:
‘….I give more unto my daughter Alice Harrold, one featherbed, flockbed, boulsters, and bedstead, wherein I now lie, in the chamber over the hall, and one pair of blankets; Item, I give unto my daughter Jane Hills my best brass pan, and my biggest brass pot; Item, I give unto my goddaughter Elizabeth Seymour aforesaid, one other brass pan; All the rest of my brass I give unto Elizabeth Hills aforesaid; Item, I give all my pewter vessels unto Elizabeth Seymour, Elizabeth Hills, Jane Seymour the younger, Alice Hills, Anne Hills and Jane Hills my grandchildren aforesaid, to be equally divided amongst them; Item, I give more unto my grandchild John Harrold, one mare, nag or horse beast, to be delivered unto him….’
Lynda and her team have concentrated on the wills of people from Lydiard Tregoze and Lydiard Millicent, as there are so many links between the neighboring parishes and this also supports our Lydiard Tregoze Grave Survey and Family History Project.
If you would like to get involved in the project please contact Lynda via [email protected] Detailed information and an application form can be downloaded here: The 100 Wills Project Application Information.