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The Will of William Byrd (1540-1623)

July 14, 2012
William Byrd (1540-1623)



In the name of the most glorious and undevided Trinitye Father sonne holy Goste three distinct persons and one eternall God Amen|  I William Byrd of Stondon Place in the pish of Stondon in the Countye of Essex gentleman doe now in the 80th yeare of myne age but through ye  goodnes of God beeinge of good health and pfect memory make & ordayne this for my last will & Testament:   First:  I give & beequeth my soule to God Almyghtye my Creattor & redemer and preserver:  humblye cravinge his grace and mercye for ye forgivenes of all my Synnes and offences: past psent and to come.  And yt I may live and dye a true and pfect member of his holy Catholycke Church wth out wch I beeleve theire is noe Salvation for mee my body to bee honnestly buryed in that pish and place wheire it shall please God to take mee out of this lyve wch I humbly desire yf soe it shall please God maye bee in the pish of Stondon wheire my dwellynge is: And then to bee buried neare unto the place where my wife lyest buryed. or eles wher as God & the tyme shall pmytt & Suffer.  And wheire I have beene longe desireous to setle my poore estate in the Fearme of Stondon place accordinge to an awarde latlye made beetweene Catheren Byrde my daughter in law & mee bee a very good Frend to hus both:  wch  award wee both give our cristian pmisses to pforme. but havinge beene letted & hyndred theirin:  by the undutifull obstinancie of one whome I am unwilling to name;  do nowe ordayne & disposse of the same as Followeth.   First the whole Fearme to remayne to my selfe & my assignes duringe my lyfe: and after my desscease:  I give the same to my daughter in law mria Catheren Byrd for her life: upon the condicõns folowinge vidz:  to paye Twenty eight pounds fiftene shillinges & foure pence yearly to mr Anthony Lutor or his assignes for the fee fearme rent And to pay to mris Dawtrey of dedinghurst 15s shillings yearly for the quitrent of maleᵽdns freehould:  Allsoe to paye unto my sonne Thomas Byrde Twenty pounds yearly duringe his life: And to my daughter Rachell Ten pounds a yeare duringe her life  And the same peaments to beegine at the next usiall Feasts of peament after the day of my death:  And after the disscease of my sayde daughterinlaw mris Catheren Byrde & of the aforsayde lyffes:  I give and beequeth the whole Fearme of stondon place to Thomas Byrde my granchild: sonne of Christofer Byrd my eldest sonne by the sayde Catheren:  and to his heyres lawfully beegotten for ever: And for wante of such heires of the sayde Thomas Byrde sonne of ye sayde Christofer:  I give the same Fearme of Stondon place to Thomas Byrde my sonne to his heires lawfully beegotten:  And for want of such heires:  I give the Inheritance of the sayde Fearme to the four sonnes of my daughter mary Hawksworth wiffe of Henrie Hawksworth gentleman as the are in age & Seniority vidz:  First to william Hawksworth & his heires lawfully beegotten And for wante of such heires to Henrie Hawksworth his seconde brother his heires lawfully beegotten & For want of such heires to George Hawksworth and his heires lawfully beegotten & for wante of such heires to John Hawksworth the fourth sonne of ye sayd mary Hawksworth my daughter:  And to his heires lawfully beegotten  And for want of such heires of ye foure sonnes of mary Hawksworth my daughter & her husband  To william hooke sonne unto Rachell Hooke my daughter and to his heires lawfully beegotten  and for want of such heires:    To the right heires of mee the sayde william Byrde for ever:  It I give and beequeth to my daughterinlaw mris Catheren Byrde & her sonne Thomas Byrde all my goods moveables and unmoveables at stondon place And alsoe all the woodes and Tymber trees wheiresoever the are groinge in & upon ye sayde Farme:  upon this condicõn only to see mee honestly buryed and my debts truly discharged to wch end & porposse:  I doe make & ordayne Catheren Byrde my sayde daughterinlaw & Thomas Byrde her sonne whole executors of this my last will & Testament.   It I give & bequeth unto my sonne Thomas Byrd all my goods in my lodginge In the Earle of wosters howse in the straund:  And wheire I purchassed a ppetuall annytye or rent charge of 20 a yeare of Sr Francis Fortescue knight unto 200li bee payde in wch annyty I have given to Elizabeth Burdet my eldest doughter for her lyfe:  I doe now declare how it shall bee dispossed of after my sayde daughters desscease first yf my sayde sonne Thomas Byrde concurr wth this my last will & Testament & except of his Annyty accordinge to ye same:  Then I give the one halfe of yt Annyty beeinge Ten pounds a yeare ore one hundreth pound yf it bee payde in:  to the sayde Thomas Byrd his heires executors and assignes And the other halfe of y annyty I give & beequeth to michaell walton wth mariage of his wiffe Catheren hooke my granchilde for her mariage portion Allwayes ᵽvided yt yf my sonne Thomas Byrd to seeke by lawe or other wayes to disturb or troble my executors & not agree to ye same:  Then I doe heireby declare That my will & intention is:  That the sayde Thomas Byrde my sonne shall have noe parte of the sayde Annyty:  but I doe heireby give yt part of ye Annyty That I had given to my sonne Thomas Byrd: to Thomas Byrd my granchild to hym and his heires for ever  And havinge now by the leave of god Finished this my last will accordinge to the trew meaninge of the sayde awarde & our christian pmisses:  I doe now by this my last will & Testament utterly revocke & annill all former grants writtings & wills as far as in mee lyeth whatsoever is contrary to this my last will & Testament:  In wittnes wheirof I the sayd william Byrd have set my hand & seale the Fiftenth day of November in the yeares of ye reigene of our Sowagine lord James by the grace of God Kinge of England France & Ireland the Twenteth and of Scotland Fiftie six defender of the fayth re 1622:

                                                                                                                By me Wyllm Byrde

                                Sealed & delivered in the psence of

                                                  Heny Hawksworth.


(Proved by Thomas Byrd and Catherine Byrd 30th October 1623.) [Fellowes’ note]


 Fellowes, Edmund H., William Byrd A Short Account of his Life and Work, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1923, Appendix B, pp. 119-123.  Copied from a photograph of the original will in Somerset House.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


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