Will of John Cowley, surgeon and apothecary, 1856

National Archives PROB 11/2239/289

This is the last Will and Testament of me John Cowley of Winslow in the County of Bucks Surgeon and Apothecary I bequeath unto my Grandson Henry Arnold Cowley my silver salver and soup ladle and unto my Grandson Charles Theophilus Kelland the service of plate presented to me soon after the decease of Mainwaring Davies Esquire and request that the same may be kept by the said Henry Arnold Cowley and Charles Theophilus Kelland respectively in the nature of heir looms I bequeath unto my Son in law David Thomas Willis my silver pint tankard and unto my grandson William Harris Bowker my other silver tankard I bequeath unto my daughter Charlotte Eliza Holland and my Son in law Thomas Bowker the legacy or sum of one hundred pounds each and unto my said Grandson Henry Arnold Cowley the legacy or sum of ten pounds to be paid to them respectively within twelve calendar months next after my decease I devise all the real estates if any which shall at the time of my decease be vested in me as trustee or mortagee to my Sons in law Thomas Bowker John Kelland and David Thomas Willis subject to the trusts and equities affecting the same respectively I devise all the real estate if any of which I shall be beneficially seized at the time of my decease And I bequeath the residue of the personal estate to which I shall then be entitled to the said Thomas Bowker John Kelland and David Thomas Willis their heirs executors administrators and assigns respectively upon trust to sell my real estate (if any) together or in parcels by public auction or private contract and to convert and get in my residuary personal estate and to stand possessed of the monies to arise from such real estate and residuary personal estate Upon trust in equal shares and proportions per capita and not per stirpes for all and every the children now living of my Daughters Charlotte Eliza Holland and Maria Willis and of my late Daughter Sarah Eagles Bowker deceased as and when they shall severally and respectively attain the age of twenty one years In case of the decease of either or any of the said children under the age of twenty one years without issue I direct that as well the share originally given as the shares accruing under this present provision to any child so dying shall accrue to the surviving brothers and sisters of such child in equal shares if more than one during the minority of any such child or children I direct my trustees to place out and continue his her or their presumptive share or

[p.2] shares at interest in their own names in the public stocks or funds or on government or real securities in England with liberty to change the investment as often as they shall think fit for any other investment of the kind prescribed And I empower my said trustees to apply for the maintenance and education or otherwise for the benefit of each child during his or her minority the income of such childs presumptive share I empower the trustees or trustee for the time being of this my Will to give receipts for all monies and effects to be paid or delivered to such trustees or trustee by virtue of my Will and declare that such receipts shall exonerate the persons taking the same from liability to see to the application or disposition of the monies or effects therein mentioned I empower the trustees or trustee for the time being of my Will to compound or allow time for the payment of any debt or debts due to my estate and to settle all demands against my estate and all accounts between me and any person or persons on such terms as my said trustees or trustee shall in their or his discretion think expedient and to refer any matters in difference relating to my affairs to arbitration And I exempt every trustee of my Will from liability for losses occurring without his own wilful default and authorise him to retain and allow to his Co-trustee or Co-trustees all expences incidental to the trusteeship I nominate constitute and appoint my said Sons in law Thomas Bowker John Kelland and David Thomas Willis to be Executors and trustees of my Will And lastly I hereby revoke and make void all former and other Wills and Codicils by me at any time heretofore made and declare this only to be my last Will and Testament In witness whereof I the said John Cowley the Testator have hereunto set my hand this fourth day of December in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty five    

Signed sealed & delivered J(oh)n Cowley    

Signed by the said Testator John Cowley in the joint presence of us who in his presence at his request and in the presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses thereof                          Henry Sharp Dispenser                   Elizabeth Simmons Housemaid

Proved 2nd October 1856 by Thomas Bowker Esquire John Kelland and Daniel Thomas Willis executors to whom administration was granted


John Cowley was born at Broughton (now in Milton Keynes) in 1778, son of Hugh Willeat Cowley (d.1820) and his wife Sarah. He came to Winslow in 1793 as apprentice to Dr John Tookey, and married at Aylesbury in 1803 Sarah (bap. 1777), daughter of William Eagles of Aylesbury, wool-stapler (will proved 1810, National Archives PROB 11/1512/145). She was the niece of Sarah, wife of the Winslow surgeon Thomas Prentice. Henrietta Tookey, nee Prentice (d.1847) was her cousin. She died in 1819 aged 42. Children:

Dr Cowley was a partner of Dr Tookey by 1806. He moved to Lawn House in 1819 after Dr Tookey died (he previously lived in the High Street). He also acquired the adjacent land, and in the early 1820s he won prizes for growing poppies for opium there. The Walk was sometimes known as Cowley's Walk in his honour. In 1843 he was presented with a testimonial for his long service to Winslow.

Mainwaring Davies of Addington House died in 1835 aged 91.

Memorial to John Cowley in Winslow churchBucks Herald, 8 March 1856
On the 28th ult. at Winslow, where he had resided 63 years, Mr. John Cowley, MRCSE, aged 78, full of honours, in life much respected, in death most sincerely lamented.

Oxford Chronicle, 8 March 1856
His public spirit was ever active in promoting the prosperity and welfare of his fellow-townsmen, who, a few years since, evinced their regard for his services by presenting to him a piece of plate as a testimonial of their esteem.

Oxford Herald, 22 March 1856
A few days since, the remains of the late John Cowley, Esq., were interred in the old church-yard (a spot chosen by himself) amidst universal demonstrations of respect and sympathy for the memory of the lamented gentleman. The funeral arrangements were of an unostentatious character.

Sale advert from the Bucks Herald

Kitchen Requisites, Glass, Earthenware, 75 Ounces of Plate, Plated Goods, Prints, 700 Volumes of Books, handsome Grey Mare, In-pig Sow, Gig, part of a Rick of Hay (about 6 Tons), Saddles and Bridles, Harness, Chaff Machine, Quantity of Manure, 4-inch wheel Cart, Land Roll, Liquid Manure Machine, with Gutta Percha Hose, Working Tools, and Sundry Effects, late the Property of John Cowley, Esq., deceased.

TO BE SOLD BY AUCTION, BY Mr. JAMES KING, On the Premises, WINSLOW, on TUESDAY and WEDNESDAY, 1st and 2nd days of APRIL, 1856, at Eleven each day, by direction of the Executors.

Mr. JAMES KING respectfully announces that he has received instructions to offer for SALE BY AUCTION, in the Month of APRIL next,
THAT very convenient FAMILY MANSION, late the Residence of John Cowley, Edquire, deceased, with Stables, Chaise-houses, and all necessary Outbuildings, and 7 acres of Pasture Land adjoining, well adapted for a sporting gentleman; also, 11 Acres of Accommodation Land, in the town of Winslow; and 27 Acres of Land, at Grandborough.

Hand with finger pointingFurther Particulars will appear. Winslow, 27th March, 1856.

Bucks Herald, 12 August 1843

Italics indicate places where the original text has been summarised.


On Friday, the 4th instant, the subscribers to the testimonial to John Cowley, Esq., invited that gentleman to a dinner at the Bell Inn, Winslow, to celebrate its presentation.  It consisted of a massive and magnificent salver, richly enchased with wreathes of the most elegant design, in the centre of which ran the following inscription:- “Presented to John Cowley Esq., by the inhabitants of Winslow, Bucks, as a mark of regard and esteem for the valuable and disinterested services he has for many years rendered to the parish.   July, 1843.”

Edward Selby Lowndes, Esq., presided.  There were also present W. Selby Lowndes, Esq., (Lord of the Manor,) the Rev. W. W. McCreight, (Vicar of the parish,) the Rev. C. S. Lowndes, the Rev. E. N. Young, John Dauncey, Esq., J. W. Cowley, Esq., (one of the County Coroners), G. Cowley, Esq., S. G. Dudley, Esq., S. B. Dudley, Esq., Mr. G. Maydon, with other of the principal inhabitants of the town, and several gentlemen of the neighbourhood.

The dinner and dessert were truly sumptuous, including every variety the season could furnish.  The cloth having been withdrawn, and the usual loyal toasts drank,

The Chairman rose and said,- Gentlemen, the object of our meeting this day, you are fully aware, is to testify the sense of deep gratitude we entertain towards our worthy and venerable friend, Mr Cowley.  Called upon as I have been, and standing to perform this grateful and honourable duty, it would be affectation if I were not to express the feelings which glow within my bosom, at being made the instrument of expressing those feelings which reign predominant in yours.  During a period of upwards of half a century that he has been an inhabitant of this place, his best energies have been devoted to the promotion of all and every measure that tended to the prosperity and benefit of the parish of Winslow.  The event of to-day, Gentlemen, must ever be to you a source of highest gratification, inasmuch that by your actions you attempt, though vainly attempt, to appreciate the highest and most amiable quality that can adorn the human character – disinterested activity in advancing the prosperity of the people amongst whom we reside – and which, during a series of years, has been so eminently conspicuous in the worthy individual whom we have the pride and gratification to meet on this interesting occasion.  The Chairman then addressing Mr. Cowley, said, “In the name of the subscribers – your fellow citizens of Winslow – I beg to present this as a everlasting testimony of their esteem and regard, and may you continue many years to enjoy the conscious satisfaction of the merits which justly entitle you to this tribute of public admiration.”

The Chairman then gave “The health of Mr. Cowley,” which was responded to with an intensity of enthusiasm that beggars all description.

Mr. Cowley then rose and said, - Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen – I rise to acknowledge the honour, the happiness, I have experienced from unlimited friendship during the period our worthy President has alluded to, that I have been an inhabitant of Winslow, and with pride, let me add, the same has not been confined to this parish, but similar flattering demonstrations of attachment have extended to its vicinity, as several at the present table can testify.  (Hear, hear.)  But never was I placed in a similar situation of difficulty to find language adequate to convey the feelings of my heart, as on the present occasion, although this is the fourth inscribed piece of plate that it has been my honour and happiness to have had presented to me.  (Loud cheers.)   I again say, Gentlemen, I find it utterly impossible for my lips to convey the feelings of my heart.   Feeble and faint, indeed, are any words that I can command to give expression to those feelings of gratitude that now almost overwhelm me.   I thought before I came amongst you this evening, when sitting in calm and silent seclusion within the precincts of my dwelling, and reflecting on the honour which awaited me, that my tongue would not have refused, as it now does, to obey the highest aspirations of my soul.   May I not claim, however, as an apology for this seeming deficiency in the intensity of my acknowledgement, the advanced age under which I labour;  an impaired memory  the stern decree of Almighty wisdom on every son of Adam whose head, like mine, is grown “White with the snows of by-gone years.”

(Loud cheering).   Yet I flatter myself I can, I do, appreciate the value of the testimonial you have this day awarded me.   Accept for this distinguished honour the tribute of a honest, upright, true, and grateful heart.  (Hear, hear).   Your kindness will be to me one continuous cause of pleasure and satisfaction; and it gives me also the happiness of anticipation, to hand down to my posterity this mark of your esteem, as the greatest treasure they can possess.   The honour you have now conferred cannot be limited to me;  such a display must go forth;  exciting powers of action that hitherto have laid dormant;  stimulating the industry of youth and middle age;  keeping alive their exertions; and opening a door for long advancement and honourable rivalry.   I now thank you for your kindness and attention while I have vainly endeavoured to express the sense of gratitude I feel, and trust that your benevolent friendship will constrain my future conduct to be such as we shall ever retain your esteem and confidence.  Finally, Gentlemen, I beg to drink success and happiness to you all.  (Loud and continued cheering).

Song – “Should auld acquaintance by forgot”, by Mr. Dickins on the accordian.

The Chairman then proposed “The Bishop and Clergy of the Diocese”.

The Rev. W. W. McCreight then spoke, thanking Mr. Cowley for his support of the church and the unity of faith, and for his personal friendship.   He particularly mentioned ‘the valuable services in the advancement of education’.

The Rev. E. N Young proposed a toast “The Lord of the Manor (Mr Selby Lowndes)and prosperity to the Town of Winslow.”   He continued that he was convinced of the great and paramount importance to the country of our landed nobility and gentry residing on their estates; (cheers) spending their fortunes amongst us and continued by praising Mr. Lowndes, who not only confers the advantages arising from his own residence amongst you, but by the various improvements he has caused to be made on his estate.

The toast was then drank with three times three, and one cheer more.

Song – “Happy Land,” by Mr. Dickins, on the accordian.

W. Selby Lowndes, Esq., returned thanks and proposed a toast.

Song – “Old English Gentleman,” by Mr. A. Barton.

Mr. Cowley, sen, spoke to the guests and, having known him all his life,  proposed a toast to the ‘health of Edward Selby Lowndes, Esq., our worthy chairman.

The toast was drank with the most enthusiastic feeling.

The chairman briefly but affectionately returned thanks.

Song – “The Light of other Days,” and “Rory O’More” by Mr. Dickin (sic), on the accordian.

The health of several other gentlemen followed, and the festivities were prolonged till a late hour.



Copyright 10 August, 2018