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Glossary - Document 2

Will of Thomas Pike, a shipwright, 15 February 1722/3.

(Catalogue reference: PROB 11/593 quire 196)

Bequeath

To leave personal (moveable) property by will.

Chattels

Moveable possessions, for example, furniture, livestock, clothes and jewellery.

Cursive hands

A generic term for varieties of handwriting written at speed, in which the letters are joined together.

Devise

To leave land by will.

Estate

The collective assets, for example, property, and liabilities, such as debts of a person.

Examination

A statement or testimony that is taken down in writing as evidence.

Executor

A man appointed by a testator, the person who made the will, to dispose of his estate in accordance with the wishes expressed in the will.

George I

King of England 1714-1727. George I was born on 28 May 1660 in Hanover, Germany. In 1714, after the death of Queen Anne, he came to the throne of Great Britain and Ireland. Although George was only 52nd in line to the throne, he was the nearest Protestant heir under the terms of the 1701 Act of Settlement. He came to England with little knowledge of the English language and a lack of understanding of British affairs, a circumstance that assisted in the gradual transference of executive power from the monarch to the ministers and cabinet. George was divorced from his wife Sophia Dorothea of Celle with whom he had one son, the future George II, and one daughter. He returned regularly to Hanover, dying there on 11 June 1727. George was originally buried at Leinesclosskirche but was reinterred in 1957 at Herrenhausen in Hanover.

Inventory

A list of items submitted by the executor to the ecclesiastical court which details the deceased's moveable property (including debts owed to the deceased).

Last Will and Testament

The written document by which a person disposes of his property after his death. Originally a will was concerned with freehold land while a testament was concerned with personal goods, but for convenience the two came to be included in one document. Anyone with possessions to leave could make a will, with certain exceptions including the following:

  1. Married women, unless they had the consent of their husbands. Control of the property of a woman passed to her husband upon marriage. A married woman could bequeath both the personal goods which she had brought into the marriage and any clothes the husband had given her, but only with the consent of her husband, who also had to be the executor of the will. This situation did not change until the Married Women's Property Act of 1882.
  2. Children (boys under the age of 14, girls under the age of 12).

There was no obligation to make a will. The poor with nothing to leave did not make them while sometimes even the rich failed to make one. In fact, only a small number of people made a will before the 19th century.

Probate

Proving the will. Wills had to be proved in court - that is, the court had to be satisfied that the will truly reflected the last wishes of the deceased. Until the Court of Probate was established in 1858, ecclesiastical courts did the proving as wills were also seen as religious documents, in which the testator commended his soul to God. (See also Last Will and Testament.)

Rotherhithe

Rotherhithe is now part of the London Borough of Southwark, near the heart of Docklands. It was within the borders of the county of Surrey until 1889. For centuries the traditional industry of Rotherhithe was shipbuilding. The name is believed to have Saxon origins, from rotha, meaning mariner, and hythe, meaning landing place. Sir Francis Drake's Golden Hind set off from here.

Shipwright

A person employed in the construction of ships.

Tenements

Property often held from another person, for example, through a lease.

 
 
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