ID: MARG_496

TitleWill of Nicholas Wilbore yeoman of West Mersea 1606
AbstractWill of Nicholas Wilbore yeoman of West Mersea 1606 transcribed from ERO D/ABW 41/83

Transcription by Jools Hoyle, October 2022
There is a translation to Modern English further down the page

1660 will of Nicholas Wilbore of West Mersea, a yeoman.

He leaves un-named houses, tenements and landholdings, situated in Colchester, West Mersea and elsewhere in Essex, both freehold and copyhold, to his wife Anne (or Annis?) for the rest of her life.

This is conditional upon her clearing all of his debts, and ensuring that their son, also called Nicholas, is brought up and well educated until the age of eighteen, after which time she is to pay him an allowance of fifteen pounds half yearly. She is also charged with keeping all the buildings etc in good repair. After her death, all the properties are to revert to Nicholas (the son) and his heirs.
In the event of his wife dying before she has been able to carry out his wishes, he directs that his cousin, John Cox of Colchester, should act in her place, until Nicholas is eighteen and can take over.
He leaves his tapestry bed-cover to his son, along with his bible, a new salting house, a lye stone and his copper utensils.
He is concerned that his wife may be pregnant and makes provision for Nicholas to pay the child, if it should be born, £40 within 3 years of Nicholas coming into his own inheritance, and in the meantime, whoever has the management of his properties should ensure that the cost of the child's up-bringing is covered from income or profits generated from the estate.
He leaves the remainder of his possessions to his wife, whom he names as his sole executrix. His brother-in-law Thomas Gyll of Brightlingsea is named as supervisor.

Wilbore Nicholas
1.   In the name of god amen: I Nicholas Wilbore of Westmersea
2.   in the Countie of Essex yeoman [Note 1] the xxxti day of December
3.   in the fourth yeare of the Reigne of o[ur] soveraine lorde James [Note 2]
4.   now kinge etc[etera] and in the yeare of o[ur] Lord god 1606 though
5.   in bodie Sick yet in mynde & memorie p[er]fect thanks be to god
6.   I doe make this my last will & testament in manner followinge
7.   first I bequeath my Soule into the hands of almightie god And
8.   my bodie to be buried when and where it shall please god to
9.   apoynt & for my worldly goods I dispose in manner followinge
10.   Item I give and bequeath Unto Annes [Note 3] my wife All those
11.   my tenements houses and lands whatsoever both free [Note 4] and
12.   Coppie [Note 5] lyinge & beinge w[i]thin the towne of Colchester the
13.   p[ar]ishe of Westmersea or else where w[i]thin the Countie of Essex
14.   for and dureinge the terme of hir natureall life Upon
15.   Condition & for and toward such Uses as be hereafter
16.   specifyed first that she shall pay and discharge all suche
17.   debts as I doe now owe Unto anie manner p[er]son & p[er]sons
18.   whatsoever and also for & towards the good education and
19.   bringinge Up of Nicholas Wilbore my sonne Untill he shall
20.   come to and accomplishe his full age of eighten yeares
21.   and after his saide age of eighten yeares then I will
22.   that the saide Annes my wife shall pay out of my saide
23.   houses & landes Unto my saide sonne Nicholas yearely &
24.   everie yeare duringe hir life the sume of fifeten pounds
25.   of good and lawfull monie of Inglande to be paide at the
26.   twoo Usuall feastes in the yeare Vi[de]l[i]c[e]t [Note 6] thanuntiation of
27.   o[ur] Ladie [Note 7] and saint michaell tharchangell [Note 8] by even & equale
28.   portions: and allso that she the saide Annes my wife
29.   shall kepe & mainteine all my saide houses edifices
30.   and buildinges in good & sufficient reprations dureinge
31.   all the saide terme of hir natureall lyfe And after
32.   the decease of the saide Annes my wife I will that all
33.   my saide tenements houses & lands shall wholly remaine
34.   Unto the saide Nicholas wilbore my sonne & to his heires
35.   for ever. It[em] I will and my meaninge is that if it shall
36.   happen the saide Annes my wife to dep[ar]te this life before
37.   such time as she shall have payde all my saide debts then I
38.   will that my Cosen [Note 9] John Cox of Colchester shall enter Upon
39.   all my saide houses and lands both free and Coppie & to take
40.   Up the profits of them & he to pay all suche of my debts
41.   as shall then be Unpaide & to bringe Up my Child Untill he
42.   Come to the age of eighten yeares & then to yeald Unto
43.   my saide sonne Nicholas a Reasonable account of the p[ro]fits
44.   of my saide houses & lands : Item I give and bequeath
45.   Unto [Note 10]

Page 2
46.   Unto Nicholas my sonne my best Coverlet [Note 11] of tapstrie worke [Note 12]
47.   my bible my newe saltinge house [Note 13] my lye stone [Note 14] and my
48.   Copper as it hangeth [Note 15] It[em] I will and my meaninge is that
49.   if it happen my wife to be with Childe now at this time
50.   that then Nicholas my sonne shall paie Unto the saide
51.   Childe the some of fortie pounds of good and lawfull monie
52.   of Inglande out of my saide houses & lands within three
53.   yeares after that he shall Come to the saide houses & lands
54.   & Inioy them and I will that in the meane time the saide
55.   Childe shalbe brought Up & kept out of the profits of my
56.   saide houses & lands whosoever shall happen to have the Use
57.   & government of them Untill my sonne Nicholas shall come
58.   to have them in his owne hands: It[em] all the Rest of my
59.   goods whatsoever Unbequeath I give them wholly Unto
60.   Annes my wife whome I ordeine and make my sole
61.   exectrice of this my last will and testament Charginge
62.   hir to see the same well and trulie approved fullfilled
63.   & kept accordinge to my true intent & meaninge therein
64.   specifyed: and I ordeine and make my brotherinlawe
65.   Thomas Gyll of Bricklesea [Note 16] to be the suprevyser thereof
66.   In witnes whereof I have hereUnto put my hande
67.   and seale the day & yeare first above writt [Note 17](en) (these)
68.   beinge witnesses at my request
69.   Timothie Hearne [Note 18]
70.   Richarde Fookes
71.   his marke [Note 19]
72.   John Boxted [Note 20]
73.   his marke

1.   A yeoman ranks above a husbandman (farmer) but below a gentleman. He may have held freehold land and may have had the right to bear arms, which lower ranked members of society would not have had.
2.   James I of England, James VI of Scotland
3.   I think this is most likely to be "Anne", despite the addition of what appears to be an "s", although it is also possible that it is "Annis"
4.   i.e., freehold land
5.   i.e., copyhold land - A kind of land tenure in England of ancient origin: tenure of lands being parcel of a manor, 'at the will of the lord according to the custom of the manor', by copy of the manorial court-roll (OED)
6.   "viz", or "namely"
7.   The Feast of the Annunciation, or Lady Day occurs on the 25th March. It is the Christian celebration of the announcement by the angel Gabriel to Mary that she would conceive and bear a son through a virgin birth and become the mother of Jesus.
8.   The Feast of St Michael and all Angels occurs on the 29th September and is also known as Michaelmas.
9.   John Cox may have been a cousin in the modern sense - i.e., the son of a brother or sister of either of Wilbore's parents, but the word was also used more loosely to denote a relative more distant than a brother or sister, sometimes nieces and nephews or even grandchildren. (OED)
10.   This incomplete one word line may signify that the will is continued on another sheet, or, possibly, be a scribe's error
11.   A counterpane or quilt for a bed
12.   i.e., tapestry
13.   A building used for the salting of meat, fish or cheese (a preservation process)
14.   A lye is a metal hydroxide traditionally obtained by leaching wood ashes (leaching means passing water through the ashes to extract a chemical substance), or a strong alkali which is highly soluble in water producing caustic basic solutions. "Lye" most commonly refers to sodium hydroxide, but historically has been used for potassium hydroxide. The ashes from hard woods, soaked in rainwater make better lye. Lye is used, amongst other things, in food production, soap making, household cleaning and tissue digestion (dissolving animal carcasses, for instance). Stale urine (known as chamber lye), was also used in the laundry process and in the manufacture of cloth. For a more in-depth description of the way laundry was done, see:
For a description of soap making in the 17th Century see:
15.   i.e., his copper utensils, which are hung up
16.   Brightlingsea
17.   Part of the document is missing here, but it is likely that this line ends with the two words: "written these"
18.   Timothy Hearne was the Vicar of West Mersea 1606-1620
19.   The last two witnesses made their mark, suggesting that they were illiterate
20.   See MARG_442 for the 1622 will of John Boxted, possibly the same man as the witness here

Translation to Modern English
Translation by Jools Hoyle

Nicholas Wilbore
1.   In the name of God, Amen, I, Nicholas Wilbore of West Mersea
2.   in the county of Essex, yeoman, on the 30th day of December
3.   in the fourth year of the reign of our sovereign lord James
4.   currently King etc., and in the year of our Lord God 1606, though
5.   sick in body but of perfect mind and memory, thanks be to God,
6.   do make this, my last will and testament in the following way:
7.   First, I bequeath my soul into the hands of Almighty God, and
8.   my body to be buried when and where it shall please God to
9.   appoint; and for my worldly goods, I dispose of them in the following way:
10.   Item: I give and bequeath to Anne my wife all of
11.   my tenements, houses and landholdings whatsoever, both freehold and
12.   copyhold lying within the town of Colchester, the
13.   parish of West Mersea or elsewhere in the county of Essex,
14.   for and during the term of her natural life, upon
15.   condition, and for and towards such uses as are hereafter
16.   specified - first, that she shall pay and discharge all such
17.   debts as I owe now to any person or persons
18.   whatsoever, and also, for and towards the good education and
19.   upbringing of Nicholas Wilbore, my son, until he
20.   reaches his full age of eighteen years.
21.   After he turns eighteen, then, I will
22.   that the said Anne, my wife, shall pay out of my said
23.   houses and landholdings to my said son, Nicholas yearly and
24.   every year during her life, the sum of fifteen pounds
25.   of good and lawful English money, to be paid at the
26.   two usual annual feast days, namely The Feast of the Annunciation of
27.   Our Lady (i.e., Lady Day) and The Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels (i.e., Michaelmas) by even and equal
28.   portions. Also, that she, the said Anne, my wife,
29.   shall keep and maintain all my said houses, structures
30.   and buildings in good and sufficient repair throughout
31.   the whole of her life. And, after
32.   the death of the said Anne, my wife, I will that all
33.   my said tenements, houses and lands shall wholly remain (i.e., go to)
34.   to the said Nicholas Wilbore, my son, and to his heirs
35.   for ever. Item: I will, and my meaning is, that if it should
36.   happen that the said Anne, my wife, die before
37.   such time as she has paid all of my said debts, then I
38.   will that my cousin, John Cox of Colchester shall take control
39.   of all my said houses and lands, both freehold and copyhold, and use
40.   the profits from them to pay all of my debts
41.   that remain unpaid, and to bring up my child until
42.   he reaches the age of eighteen, and then to provide
43.   my said son, Nicholas, a fair account of the profits
44.   of my said houses and lands. Item: I give and bequeath
45.   to
46.   to Nicholas, my son, my best tapestry bed cover,
47.   my Bible, my new salting house, my lye-stone and my
48.   copper utensils which are hanging up. Item: I will, and my meaning is, that
49.   if it should be that my wife is now pregnant
50.   then Nicholas, my son, shall pay to the said
51.   child the sum of forty pounds of good and lawful English
52.   money from the said houses and lands within three
53.   years after the said houses and lands come to him
54.   and he enjoys the benefit of them. I will that in the meantime the said
55.   child shall be brought up and kept out of the profits of my
56.   said houses and lands, whoever happens to have the use
57.   and management of them until my son Nicholas takes
58.   possession of them himself. Item: All the rest of my
59.   goods whatsoever that have not been bequeathed I give wholly to
60.   Anne, my wife, whom I ordain and make my sole
61.   Executrix of this, my last will and testament, charging
62.   her to see that it is well and truly approved, fulfilled
63.   and carried out according to my true intent and meaning
64.   specified therein. I ordain and make my brother-in-law
65.   Thomas Gyll of Brightlingsea to be the supervisor thereof.
66.   In witness whereof I have appended my signature
67.   and my seal on the day and year written above, these
68.   being witnesses at my request:
69.   Timothy Hearne
70.   Richard Fookes
71.   John Boxted

SourceMersea Museum