|Will of Robert Smyth of West Mersea dated 15 June 1516 transcribed from Essex Record Office D/ACR 2/42/3
Abstract Transcription and Modern English Translation by Trevor Hearn November 2021
Will of Robert Smyth [Smith] dated 15th June 1516.
Date of death: unknown
Date of Probate: unknown
To his wife: the house, land and chattels for the rest of her life, then to Richard Smyth [Smith], son of the testator and his heirs.
To his daughters Agnes and Alice: each to receive 20s, a bed and associated items, and a pot.
20d to the High Altar for outstanding tithes due; 2d to Paul's Pardon; 2s for a ram to preceed the funeral procession; a field called "Jenny's Croft" for a celebration of mass, with 6d to the vicar, 4d to the bell ringer and 1d each to 6 poor people of the parish; 40d towards maintenance of the highway; 6s.8d for gilding the roodloft crucifix; a lamb to each godchild; 40d to each executor and the supervisor.
Executors appointed: Robert Webb of Langenhoe, Richard Smyth [Smith], son of testator.
Supervisor: Stephen Benet [Bennett]
Witnesses: William Hunt, William Sayer, John Miller and others.
Transcription of the will
Test[amentu]m Roberti Webbi [Note 1] [Smyth]
In dei no[m]i[n]e Amen I Roberd Smyth of hole mynde
and good remembrans make my testament asto
this man[ner] First I bequeth my sowle unto almyghti
god my body my body [sic] to be buried in the church
yarde of petyr & paule in Westm[er]sey It[e]m I be-
queth to the hie Awt[er] for tithes forgot[t]en xxd
It[e]m to pawlis pardon ijd It[e]m for a foredrove [Note 2]
a wether [Note 3] pae ijs It[e]m to Agnes my daughter
xls and a bedd w[i]t[h] that that longyth thereto & a pott
It[e]m to Alis my daught[er] xls and a bedd w[i]t[h] that that
longyth thereto & a pott It[e]m to Alis4 my daughter
xls and a bedd w[i]t[h] that that longhith thereto
& a pott and if any and if any [sic] of them departe
the other to have all Item I bequeth a Close [Note 5]
called Jenys croft [Note 6] for an obet [Note 7] to be celebrate[d]
in the church of Westm[er]sey the vicar vjd the
parish prest iiijd the Clerk viijd for Rynghyng of my bell[es]
and to vj power people vjd Item to the hey weye bytwyxt
my house & the church xld It[e]m to the gyldyng of the
Crusifyx in the Rodeloft [Note 8] vjs viijd Item to ev[er]y of of [sic] my
godchildern a lambe Item I bequeth to my wiff my
howse & all my lande & catell bothe moveable & unmove-
able terme of her liff & after her decese I will that Richard
my sone shall have it to hym & to his her[es] of his body law-
fully begote[n] for ev[er] undre this condic[i]on to fynde an honest
prest to celibrate for me and my wiff the space of a yere
or els a teneme[n]t called walgraves shall be solde & go therfor
and thes y make myne executo[ur]s Robert webbe of lang[n]ho
& Richard Smyth my son[e] and stephyn Benet to be
Sup[er]visor and eche of them to have for ther labue xld
Also I will that my wiff shall kype a diryge w[i]t[h] an honest
drynkyng for all the parish terme of her liff witnes
herof willia[m] hunte willia[m] saer John Miller cu[m] mult[es]
alijs [Note 9] the yer[e] of ou[r] lorde m[il]l[e] ccccc xvj the xv day of June
Modern English Translation
Will of Robert Smyth [Smith]
In the name of God, Amen. I, Robert Smyth [Smith] being of sound mind and good remembrance hereby make my last will and testament as follows:
First, I bequeath my soul to Almighty God and my body to be buried in the churchyard of St Peter and St Paul in West Mersea.
Item: I bequeath 20d to the High Altar of the aforesaid church in respect of unpaid tithes.
Item: I bequeath 2d to Paul's Pardon.
Item: I allocate 2s towards a ram to preceed my funeral procession.
Item: I bequeath 20s to my daughter Agnes Smyth [Smith] together with a bed and associated furnishings and a pot.
Item: I bequeath 20s to my daughter Alice Smyth [Smith] together with a bed and associated furnishings and a pot.
Item: I bequeath 20s to my daughter Alice Smyth [Smith] together with a bed and associated furnishings and a pot. [N.B. this may be a
repetition of the preceeding line]
Should either daughter die prior to inheritance, the survivor to receive the deceased's share.
Item: I bequeath a field called "Jenny's Croft" for a mass to be celebrated in the church of West Mersea, the vicar to receive 6d, the clerk to receive 4d for ringing the bells and 6 poor people to receive 1d each.
Item: I bequeath 40d towards the maintenance of the highway between my house and the church.
Item: I bequeath 6s.8d for gilding the crucifix in the rood loft.
Item: I bequeath a lamb to each of my godchildren.
Item: I bequeath my house, land and chattels (both moveable and unmoveable) to my wife for the term of her natural life and, following her decease, to my son Richard Smyth [Smith] and his lawfully begotten heirs for ever, subject to Richard finding a respectable priest to celebrate mass for me and my wife for one year; otherwise the cost to be funded from the sale of a tenement called "Waldegraves".
I hereby appoint Robert Webb of Langenhoe and my son, Richard Smyth [Smith] as executors of this my will and I appoint Stephen Benet [Bennett] as supervisor. I bequeath 40d to each of them for their fee.
I also desire my wife to keep a dirge with adequate refreshments for the whole parish for the rest of her life.
In witness hereof: William Hunt, William Sayer, John Miller and many others.
Dated: 15th June 1516
Note 1 This must be a transposition error as the will is clearly that of ROBERT SMYTH
Note 2 Foredrove: an animal or animals driven before the corpse at a funeral, a corse-present or mortuary (Source: OED)
Note 3 Wether: a male sheep; a ram, especially a castrated ram (Source: OED)
Note 4 This may be another transposition error: Alice is already mentioned in the previous bequest
Note 5 Close: an enclosed field; enclosed place; an enclosure (Source: OED)
Note 6 Croft: a piece of enclosed ground used for tillage or pasture: in most localities a small piece of arable land adjacent to a house (Source: OED)
Note 7 Obet (Obit): an office or service, usually a mass, held to pray for the soul or otherwise commemorate a deceased person (at the request and usually the expense of that person or his or her family) on the anniversary of his or her death, or at some other appointed time; a yearly or other regular memorial service
Note 8 Rodeloft (rood loft): a loft or gallery, often panelled and ornately decorated, running along the top of a rood screen in a church (Source: OED)
Note 9 Cum multes aliis: Latin for "with many others"