Will of John Willeat Cowley of Buckingham, coroner, 1848 (proved 1849)

National Archives PROB 11/2099/106

The will has been summarised as most of it is not relevant to Winslow.

Will made 28 Sep 1848. J.W. Cowley was "late Coroner for the Northern division of the said County which office severe indisposition compelled me to resign and I am therefore now Coroner only for the Municipal Borough of Buckingham and practising as a Solicitor in the same place."

"I desire to be buried in the tomb which I erected for my dear daughter Georgina Louisa in the Church Yard at Winslow and that the following inscription be engraved on the quarter of the said tomb which faces my Father’s private entrance into the Church: “In memory of John Willeat Cowley who for upwards of eleven years filled the office of Coroner for the Northern Division of this County and more than twenty years practised as a Solicitor at Buckingham. He died on the [ ] day of [ ] 18[ ]  aged [ ] years” at the same time leaving a sufficient space underneath for an inscription in memory of my dear wife Elizabeth in the event of her dying my widow and the remains being deposited in the same tomb. It is my particular desire that no ostentation be observed or unnecessary expences incurred as regards my funeral and for the benefit of my family and the advancement of science I wish that my body may previous to interment be submitted to a post mortem examination for the purpose of ascertaining as far as it may be possible the diseases by which either my frame was affected during life or which were the immediate cause of my decease."

Executors: his widow, his brother-in-law David Thomas Willis, and Robert Russell of Brackley auctioneer and land agent

Bequests to his wife include: "my old silver watch purchased at Ramsgate shortly after our marriage","the double action harp grand rosewood piano two stools music stand and book rack for music in my present drawing room".

Bequests to his son include:" the mahogany venered dressing case which my brother in law John Kelland presented to me the microscope and apparatus with the two volumes by Adams belonging thereto which are now and for many years past have been in the possession of my father and brother, the oil painting of my late old favorite gray horse, the prints of the Canterbury Pilgrims as likewise of the present Duke of Wellington and Duke of Buckingham, my gold signet ring in memory of his dear sister Georgy, my gold pencil case with crest and motto, the china bowl bearing the Partridge Arms and all seals bearing my crest, one of his and one of my own photographic likenesses …"

"[I] further hope he will not think of living apart from [his mother] whilst single as he must feel that he has no one else to look up to for protection and comfort  And I hereby express a most sincere hope and desire that he will not think of passing through this world in indolence or as a man of pleasure by relying upon or anticipating the possession of his late Grandfather’s [Thomas Arnold] handsome and kind consideration of him in his will after his mother’s death but on the contrary turn his attention to some pursuit which in a great or less degree will expand his mind and render him as I have always endeavoured to be myself a useful member of society for on serious consideration he msut see that the amount of his income independently of the uncertainty of life would never be sufficient to carry him through life in such a station as the advantages he has derived from a good education have qualified him to fill".

He mentions his offices in Well Street and a pew in Brackley church.

He refers to "my late Clerk Mr John Henry Hipwell whom I most sincerely forgive although he treated me so cruelly after my behaving to him like a brother for thirteen years.  I wish my trustees to be particularly cautious in the event of a settling of accounts between him and me being pressed as I frequently imprudently signed blank sheets and scraps of paper for notices and other purposes connected with my practice in order to save time when I was in a hurry to leave my offices but I solemnly declare I never signed any paper which has the least tendency to admit that I owed him one farthing, on the contrary I was too well satisfied and aware that he was considerably in my debt. I entered into no written or verbal agreement with him either before or after his articles expired as to any additional salary, it was my anxious wish he should leave my employ and although he entered into a bond not to practise within ten miles from Buckingham I offered to permit him to commence business at Stony Stratford and promised him my best support and interest to obtain him the County Coronership".

If his son dies without issue his estate is to be divided into four parts for:

  1. my dear departed sister Sarah Eagles Bowker’s children
  2. my brother George
  3. my sister Charlotte Eliza Kelland
  4. my sister Maria Willis

Witnesses: William Howe, surgeon, Buckingham
Ann Jordan, Winslow

Codicil of 25 March 1849 witnessed by D.T. Willis and Ann Jordan
He leaves to his son: "the oil painting of my favorite dog and the work I recently purchased entitled A glossary of Architecture"
He mentions "my present partner Frederic Budd".

Probate 22 Sep 1849


John Willeat Cowley (b.1805) was the eldest son of Dr John Cowley of Winslow (d.1856).

In 1841 John and Elizabeth Cowley with their daughter Georgina lived in Bourton Road, Buckingham. Georgina’s death was registered in Islington in 1844. aged 10.

In 1851 Henry Cowley, aged 20, architect, was living with his uncle John Kelland in West Ham.  In 1861 he was an auctioneer in St Neots with his wife Ann and two children.  In 1871 he was a “fundholder” living in Ramsgate as a lodger with his wife and son Percy aged 7.

The Cowley family tomb was probably on the north side of the church but hasn't survived, at least in an identifiable form. There is still a large tomb for the Willis family.

Copyright 5 April, 2018