Will of Thomas Cowper, 1587

National Archives PROB 11/74 & Herts RO 7AR123

The tenthe day of December Anno domini 1587 and in the xxxth yeare of the raigne of our soveraigne Ladye Elizabethe

In the name of god amen I Thomas Cowper of Shipton in the parishe of Winslo in the Countie of Buck yeoman beinge sick in bodye but wholl in sowle thancks be unto almightie god doe make this my Last will and testament in manner and forme followinge  First I bequeathe my sowle into the hands of almightie god my maker  And my bodye to be buried in the churche yarde of Winslo  Item I give and bequeathe unto Jane my wife my howse and my Land lyinge and beinge within the Lordship of Winslo duringe her naturall life and after her decease I give my howse and land to my dawghter Joane Cowper and to her heiers for ever after the manner and custome  Item I will that Jane my wife shall give unto my dawghter Joane thirtie poundes when my dawghter shall come to the age of eightene years  And if it doe fortune my dawghter doe dye before she doe come to that age, then I will that the saide thirtie poundes shall remaine to Jane my wife  Item I give my sister Anne Cowper tenne poundes at the daye of her marriage  Item I give to Marrion my sister five poundes and she to be paide within twoe years after my decease  Item I give unto Ellen my sister thre poundes at the daye of her marriage  Item I will that if any of my saide sisters doe fortune to die before they be married then I will that their stocks shall remaine and be equally devided amonge them  Item I give to Bridgett Grace five shillings  Item I give to the ringers at the daye of my buriall twentie pence  Item I give to the pore of Winslo five shillings  Item I give towardes the reparations of the churche twentie pence five shillings  Item I give to my man Robert Wells my dublett and my hosen that I lye in whiles I am sick  Item I give unto George Cocks my best dublett  Item I give to Symes the heard my yealowe dublett and my owlde hosen  Item I give unto my mother Grace my best cloke  All the rest of my goodes unbequeathed my debts payde my funerall kept I give and bequeathe unto Jane my wife  And I make the saide Jane my wife my full and sole executrix  And I make my overseers Thomas Myller and John Snowe And they to have for their paynes twoe shillings a peece. Debts that I Thomas Cowper doe owe Item I owe to my mother Grace fourtene poundes Memorandum ther was a mortall surrender given into the handes of Thomas Myller and John Snowe of the howse and land above in this will given to the behoofe of Jane his wife for terme of her life and after her decease to Joane her dawghter and to her heires for ever  Witnesses of this last will and surrender Robert Elliatt Thomas Cowper the elder Thomas Graunte Richard Hayley Thomas Ingram William Hartnoll withe others    Robert Daunce cl(e)r(k)

[Probate at St Albans 3 Jan 1587/8 to Jane Cowper, widow; PCC probate 15 Oct 1589]


This will is recorded at both St Albans and the PCC. Evidently it was taken to the higher jurisdiction later, presumably because of the dispute below.

Joan Cowper, daughter of Thomas, was baptised at Winslow on 29 Oct 1587. Thomas Cowper of Shipton was buried at Winslow on 15 Dec 1587. Jane Cowper (daughter of Robert Tomlyn) married Thomas Deverell at Winslow on 5 Aug 1588. The marriage of Jane Tomlyn and Thomas Cowper is not recorded at Winslow, Addington or Granborough.

None of the sisters is recorded as marrying at Winslow. Marian Cooper was baptised on 26 May 1565; the baptisms of the other sisters are not recorded. Thomas seems, apart from Thomas the elder (d. 1593, evidently not his father), to have been the last of the male line of Cooper/Cowper in Winslow.

William Grace of Oving, husbandman v Robert Tomlynes of Winslow and his daughter Jane Caper (Cowper), c.Jan. 1588


National Archives, C3/225/34 


To the Righte Honorable Sir Christopher Hatton knighte Lord Chauncelor of Inglande

Humbly complayninge sheweth unto your good L(ordship) your pore & daylye Orator William Grace of Ovinge in ye countye of Buck’ husb[andman] That whereas one Nicholas Emerton was seised in his demesne as of Fee of and in six acres of arable lande lyinge in \ye/ Windemyll feild in the vis[ne] of Winslowe in the countye of Buck’ and so beinge seised did aboute foure yeres paste by his Indenture of lease, the c(er)taine date wherof your said Orator knoweth not, demise unto your said Orator the said six acres of arable lande To have & to hold to him for many yeres yet to come the certaine mater your said Orator remembreth not for wante of the saide dede by force \wherof/ your said Orator entered into the same lands w(i)th th’appurtnaunces and was therof quietlye possessed  But so yt ys maye yt please your good L(ordship) one Jane Caper wydowe & Roberte Tomlyns hir Father havinge by casuall meanes the said Indenture of lease come to there hands or to the hands of one of them \& other leses & obligacions belonging to yo(ur) said Orator/ (tha)t ys about December laste have by color & p(re)tence therof entered into the six acres of lande \& other lands/ upon the possession of your said Orator and knowinge that your said Orator hath not the saide Indenture of Lease \nor any writings/ nor yet any witnesses to prove the sealinge & deliv(er)ie therof hath contrived sondry secrett estats to div(er)s p(er)sons unknowne to your said Orator [not] content to defeyte your said Orator of his estate Interest & Tearme contrary to all right equitie and good conscience and [to the] great hinderance & losse of your said Orator And for as much your said orator doth not knowe the certaine date of the said Indenture \nor the certain date of the other wrytings[?] come to there hands/ nor whether the same be in chest locked or bagge, nor hath any witnesse lyvinge that can testifie the sealinge & deliv(er)ie thereof, wherby your said Orator ys w(i)thout all remedy by the Com(m)on lawes of this Realme for the recov(er)ie of the said Indenture of Lease or for the reobteyninge the possession of the p(re)misses May yt please your good L(ordship) the p(re)misses tenderly considered to graunte to your said Orator the Quenes m(ajes)ties most gracious writte of Suppenay to be directed unto the said Roberte Tomlyns & Jane Cap(er) comaundinge them & eyther of them p(er)sona[lly] to appere before your l(ordship) in this highe court of Chauncerye \at a day certaine/ to answere to the p(re)misses and to abyde such further order \therein/ as to your L(ordship) may seme mete & convenient & your said Orator shall & will pray for the p(ro)sperous estate of your honor longe to endure.

[signed] Palmer


The Answeare of one Robert Tomlynes one of the def(endan)ts to the bill of Compl(ain)t of Will(ia)m Grace Complaynante

The said defendant not acknowledginge any thinge in the said Bill matteriallye against him alleadged to be true {true} For Aunsweare sayeth That he claymethe noe estate Tearme or Interest in the sixe acres of lande in the Bill menc(i)o(n)ed, But utterly disclaymeth to have any thinge therein w(i)t(h)out that to his knoweledge the said Nicholas Emerton was seised in his demesne as of Fee of the premisses Or that the said Em(er)ton to his knowledge did by Indenture of Lease demise the premisses unto the Complaynante for many yeares yet to come, Or that the said supposed Indenture or Lease, or other Indentures or obligac(i)ons belonginge unto the Complaynant are by casuall meanes comen to the handes or custodie of this defendant Or that by cullor or pretence thereof he hathe entered into the premisses upon the possession of the Complaynant Or hath conveyed div(er)se and sondrie secrett estates of and in the premisses as in the said Bill is untrewlie alledged And without that to this defendants knoweledge the Compl(ainan)t hath any good estate right Title or Tearme of yeares in the premisses And without that there be any other matters matteriallie in the said Bill alleadged and not herebie sufficientlie aunsweared unto confessed or avoided traversed or denyed are true All w(hi)ch this defendant is readie to avarre and prove as this honorable Courte shall awarde And praieth to be dismissed w(i)th his reasonable Costs in this behalf wrongfullie susteyned

[f3, translated from Latin]

Elizabeth by grace of God Queen of England, France, Ireland, defender of the faith, etc. to her beloved Walter Curson knight & William Pygott gentleman, greetings. Whereas William Grace lately presented a petition before us in our chancery against Jane Cowper widow and another, and since the same Jane was lately ordered by our writ that (she should appear) before us in our said Chancery at a certain day now gone by to reply to the aforesaid petition, and the same Jane is so incapacitated [impotens sui] that she is not capable of making her way to our aforesaid court of chancery on that day to make her reply to the same petition without very great danger to her body, so that [because of the incapacity?] of the same Jane, we have given to you power and authority competent in this matter diligently and order you by these present documents to examine Jane herself of and on the matter of the aforesaid petition and to receive her reply on the same, and therefore we entrust to you that at a certain day and place which you will provide for this, you will go to the aforesaid Jane if she cannot make her way to you conveniently, and diligently examine Jane herself of and in the matter of the aforesaid petition on her oath to be taken corporally by God's holy gospels in your presence, and you receive her said reply as has been ordered, and record it in on parchment. And when you have taken it, you send it to us in our court of chancery in the next fortnight of Easter wherever it is then, enclosed with your seals distinctly and openly by the aforesaid tenor and this write, at Westminster on 6 February in the thirtieth year of our reign [1588].


To the Righte Honorable Sir Christopher Hatton knyghte Lorde Chauncelor of Englande

Humblye complayninge shewethe unto your good Lordeshippe youre poore and daylie Orator Will(ia)m Grace of Ovinge in the Countie of Buckingham husbandman That whereas one Nicholas Emerton was seased in his demeasne as of Fee of and in Sixe Acres of Arable lande lyeinge in the wyndemyll feilde in the p(ar)ishe of Wynslowe in the Countie of Buckingham And soe beinge seased did aboute Fower yeares paste by his Indenture of lease the certen date whereof youre saide Orator knowethe not demyse unto youre saide Orator the saide Sixe Acres of Arrable lande To have and to holde to him for many yeares yet to come the certen nomber yo(ur) saide Orator Remembrethe not for wante of the saide deede By force whereof youre saide Orator entered into the same Landes w(i)th Th’appurtnancs and was thereof quietly possessed But soe it is maye it please youre good Lordshippe one Jane Caper widdowe and Robert Tomlyns her Father haveinge by casuall meanes the saide Indenture of Lease come to theire handes or to the handes of \one <of>/ them and other Leases and obligac(i)ons belonginge to youre saide Orator (tha)t is aboute December Laste have by collor and p(re)tence thereof entred into the Sixe Acres of Lande and other Lande uppon the possession of youre said Orator And knoweinge that your saide Orator hathe not the said Indenture of lease nor other wryinges nor yett anny wytnesses to prove the Sealinge and delivey thereof hathe contrived sundrye secrett estates to divers p(er)sons unknowen to your saide Orator to the intente to defeate youre saide Orator of his saide estate intreste & terme contrarye to all Righte equitie and good Conscyence and to the greate hinderance and losse of youre said Orator And forasmuche youre saide Orator dothe not knowe the Certen date of the saide Indenture of Lease nor the Certen date of the other wrytinges come to there handes nor whether the same be in Cheste locked or Bagge nor hathe any wytnes lyveinge that can testifie the Sealinge and delivery thereof whereby youre Orator is w(i)thout all Remedye by the Comon lawes of this Realme for the Recoverye of the saide Indenture of Lease or for the Reobtayninge the possession of the p(re)mysses maye yt please yo(ur) good Lordeshippe the p(re)misses tenderly Considered to graunte to youle saide Orator the Quenes mai(es)ties moste gracious wrytte of Subpena to be dyrected to the said Roberte Tomlyns and Jane Cap(er) comaundinge them and either of them &c
[signed] Palmer


The Answer of Jane Cooper wydowe one of the defendants to the byll of Comp(lain)t of Will(i)am Grace Compl(ainan)t

The sayde defendant sayethe that the sayde byll agaynste her exhibytyd is merelye untrue and as she is informyd by hir Cowncell learnyd incertayne and insufficyent in lawe to be answeryd unto yett neverthelesse savinge unto hir the advantage of excepc(i)on to th’incerteynte & insufficyencye therof for Answer & declaratyon of the truthe as neare as she knowythe sayethe as folllowyth: That one Nicholas Jeffes was amongest other lands seased of the \sayde/ sixe Acres in his demeasne as of Fee accordinge to the Custome of the man(or) of Wynsloe as she hathe ben credybly enformyd, and so seasyd dyd demyse & graunte the same unto the sayde Nicholas Emerton in the byll namyd for certeyne yeares the iuste nomber wherof this defend(ant) knowythe not, w(hi)ch is the same demyse & Lease w(hi)ch the Compl(ainan)t meanythe in his sayde byll as this defend(ant) intendythe, w(hi)ch Emerton as the Compl(ainan)t affirmythe in his sayde byll leasyd the p(re)mysses by Indenture to the Compl(ainan)t for dyv(er)s yeares yet endurynge. And this defend(ant) further sayethe that the sayde Nicholas Emerton dyd by his deade obligatorye become bownden to the compl(ainan)t for the quyett enioyment of the same, And also dyd demyse & lett the sayde sixe acres unto the sayde Compl(ainan)t for & durynge all the sayde tearme By reason wherof the compl(ainan)t was possessyd of the p(re)mysses, and so possessyd dyd in consyd(er)acion of the some \of/ Fyve powndes to hyme payed by Thomas Cowper deceassed late husbande of this defendant by worde grawnte & assigne over all his estate tenure & interreste in the p(re)mysses unto Thomas Cowper, And for his better securytye & for the quyett enioyenge therof dyd delyv(er) or cause to be delyv(er)yd to the sayde Thomas Cowper the sayde obligac(i)on or deade obligatorye, The benefytt wherof to be for the behoofe of the sayde Thomas Cooper & of his assignes, By reason wherof the sayde Thomas Cowper entryd into the p(re)mysses & was therof possessyd and tooke the p(ro)ffytts therof accordinglye And so beinge possessyd abowte December laste paste [10 Dec 1587] made his laste wyll & testam(en)t and therof made yo(ur) sayd oratrix his sole executrix, and dyed so possessed By and after whose deathe the sayde Jane provyd the wylle as executrix to her sayde husbande entryd into the sayde syxe Akers of lande & occupiethe the same, as well & lawfull was & is for her to doe, W(i)thowte thatt the sayde Indenture of Lease mencyonyd in the sayde byll of compl(ain)t & other leases & obligac(i)ons belongynge to the Compl(ainan)t are casuallye comen to the hands or custodye of this defend(ant), Or that by p(re)tence and cooller of any suche lease mencyonyd in the byll of Compl(ain)t she hathe entryd into the sayde syxe Akers & other lands in the possessyon in the possessyon of the sayde compl(ainan)t in anye other manner than before she hathe trulye declaryd, Or hathe contryved anye such secrett estates to dyv(er)s persons to the sayde compl(ainan)t unknowen as is untrulye alleagyd in the sayde byll of compl(ain)t And w(i)thowte thatt there are anye other matters materyallye in the sayde byll alleagyd and nott herbye suffycyentlye answeryd unto confessyd or avoyded traversyd or denyed are true All w(hi)ch matters this defend(ant) is readye to maynteyne, and prayethe to be dysmyssed owte of this honorable cowrte w(i)th her reasonable costs  & charges for this uniuste vexac(i)on & trooble.
[signed] Wal’ Curzon
[signed] Wyllam Pigott

Copyright 20 August, 2015