Inventory and accounts of Anthony Godwin, 1706, and Egerton v Godwin, 1709

National Archives, C 5/238/22

The inventory and accounts were evidence in a Chancery case which is summarised below.

[f.1] 19 Oct 1709 Complainant: Philip Egerton of Winslow mercer.

Anthony Godwin of Winslow “was in his life time possessed of a considerable personal Estate consisting of goods and chattels credits ready money jewells And other personal Estate to the value of seven hundred pounds and upwards”.  Also a real estate of £40 p.a. and upwards.

He died intestate in 1706 and left Elizabeth his widow and two daughters Mary and Elizabeth.  Elizabeth the widow possessed herself of all the personal estate and sold most of it and took to her own use the money arising and kept the rest.

Some short time after Antony’s death, in 1707 Philip and Mary the daughter married, and Mary died soon afterwards before any distribution of Antony’s personal estate.

Elizabeth the mother received of Mary “whilst sole and also after her intermarriage divers somes of money amounting to the summe of one hundred pounds and upwards” and possessed herself of all Mary’s wearing apparel.

When Philip married, his father did by lease and release and a fine, or other legal means, convey to John Egerton and Roger Adams in trust for Philip and his heirs a close of pasture in Adstock.  The writings were delivered to Adams and by him to Elizabeth and are now in her possession.

Since Mary’s death Philip has taken out letters of administration of her estate in the court of St Albans.

He “hath often in a friendly manner requested” Elizabeth to distribute Antony’s personal estate according to the statute and to pay him his share of the estate in right of his wife, and to pay him all sums of money she had received of his wife, and to deliver to him the writings.

Elizabeth “doth absolutely refuse to discover or make distribution” or account for the rents, sometimes pretending that the personal estate was not sufficient to pay the debts, or that her husband made a will and gave the estate to her, or the estate “was not sufficient to make good & answer the covenants by her said husband made on marriage with her”, or that she had made the distribution according to the statute before Mary’s marriage, or that Philip has no right to Mary’s share because she died before any distribution, or that the estate consisted of debts and credits “in the hands of poor insolvent persons and could not be yet recovered”. Elizabeth pretends she has a right to keep the writings “for that the same are putt into her hands for performance of some part of the marriage Agreement”.

[signed] J Raby

[f.2] Sworn 30 Nov 1709.  The Answere of Elizabeth Godwin

She denies that Antony was possessed of a personal estate of £700 or a real estate of £40 p.a. Antony died intestate and left his widow and daughters and Mary afterwards married Philip.

Soon after Antony’s decease she took out letters of administration and possessed herself of the personal estate.  She sold some part and paid part of the debts and funeral expenses, but denies that she kept any of the estate to her own use.  She “hath hereinafter sett forth a full & exact Account as farr as she cann remember how much thereof she hath sold and how she hath Disposed of the same”.

Mary died about a year and a quarter after her marriage.

There was no distribution because the personal estate was not sufficient to pay the debts and funeral expenses.

Mary before and since her marriage received part of the estate: “six new napkins one large fluid[?] Holland sheet some Holland pillowebeers & some Wearing Linnen & other things”.  The wearing linen was appraised in the inventory but at what rate she cannot set forth because they “were not distinguished in the Inventory but Appraised together with severall other Goods”.

She denies receiving money from Mary amounting to £100 but she received several small sums before and after her marriage not amounting to £5 which Mary “delivered to her in order to buy for her [=Mary] such necessaryes as she desired”, her daughter “being very often sick”.  She never received any money for her own use.

A third of the rents of the real estate belonged to Mary. She did not possess herself of Mary’s wearing apparel “any otherwise then as herein sett forth”.

About the time of Mary’s marriage, Elizabeth bought with her own money “one silk gown one silk petticoat & one pair of stayes which this def(endan)t designed for her said Daughter if she had been in health & had lived but never gave them to her said Daughter she being very unhealthy & not likely to live”.  She still has them and if Philip will pay the price she gave she is ready to let him have them.

When Mary married and left Elizabeth’s house “she left some old Cloaths & other Things under the value of tenn shillings”.

She believes Philip’s father conveyed to John Egerton and Roger Adams in trust a close of pasture in Adstock but she “hath not such Lease & Release in her Custody or Power” but they were delivered to Philip by her order 4 months since.  She has a receipt.  She never had in her custody the fine or any other writing.

It may be that Philip has taken out letters of administration.  Elizabeth is willing to come to a fair account. It may be true that he has requested her to make a distribution but the personal estate was not sufficient to pay debts and funeral expenses.

Antony died seised of real estate in the parish of Dinton and quit-rents issuing out of lands and tenements in the parish of Dinton of the yearly value of £33 1s 7d, and “the profits of the said Estate from the time of her said husbands Decease to the time that the Compl(ainan)t himself received his part & share of the Rents of the said reall Estate in right of his said wife (Taxes & Quitt Rent payable out of the said Intestates being deducted) amount in the whole to the summe of” £41 7s 7¼d, 1/3 of which £13 15s 10¼d she computes did belong to Mary, the other 2/3 to herself and Elizabeth her daughter.  The daughters engaged that Elizabeth sr should receive 1/3 “in consideracion of her right of Dower”.

She has hereinafter set forth an account of the personal estate, appraised according to an inventory exhibited into the proper court.  Most part are in Philip and Elizabeth’s possession.  The inventory follows:

A true & perfect Inventory of all & singular the Goods Chattles Wares & Merchandises of Anthony Godwin late of Winslowe in the County of Buck’ deceased made & taken by us Thomas Ward Benjamin Dudley & Joseph Glenister att Mursley [sic] aforesaid the twenty third day of August in the Fifth year of the Reigne of our Sovereigne Lady Ann [numerals are written as words in the document and it is all continuous text]

“And this Defendt farther sayth that she verily beleives & Doubts not but to prove if Occasion be that the said Intestates Personall Estate as much overvalued by the Persons who appraised the same who were unskilfull in Affaires of that Nature they haveing Appraised the Wearing Apparell of this deft & her said two Daughters”. She hopes she shall not be answerable for that but shall have an allowance on coming to account with Philip. “And the said Appraisers did likewise in the said Inventory include as ready Money All the Arreares of Rent due to her said husband att the time of his Death which did not exceed” £9.

A true and particular account of debts owing from the intestate:

“a true Account of the Funerall Expences of the said Intestate as the same was agreed on & consented to by this deft & her said two Daughters Mary late wife of the Compt before her Marryage & the said Elizabeth":

"And this Defendt sayth that she did find & provide for the said Mary the Complts late wife Meat Drink Washing Lodging & other Necessaryes from the time of the said Intestates Death untill the time of her Intermarriage with the Complt and alsoe supplyed her with Pockett Money dureing the same time which was One whole yeare & two Moneths for which this Deft doth humbly insist that he the sd Mary before her Intermarriage was indebted to this Deft in the summe of Twenty One pounds tenn shillings at least & hopes that the Compt shall pay & satisfie this Deft for the same This Deft haveing never received any manner of Satisfaction for the said Debt  And this Deft farther sayth that this Defts & her said two Daughters Wearing Apparell & Linnen included in the said Inventory were in the Appraisement reckoned att thirty three pounds sixteen shillings which the Appraisers themselves are ready to make Oath of if thereunto required & of which said sume of Thirty three Pounds sixteen shillings this Deft humbly craves an allowance on her accounting with [f.2v] The Complt as aforesaid  And this Deft further sayth that she this Deft and her said Two Daughters before the said Mary Intermarried with the Complt Did Give away and Dispose of most of the said Intestates best & other Wearing Apparell to Mr Roger Adams this Defts sonn and to Mr Nicholas Godwin the Intestates Brother which according to the Appraisement in the said Inventory were valued about the summe of Fourteen poundes to the best of this Defendts Judgment & Beleife whereof she craves Allowance & Deduccion  And this Defendt denyes she ever pretended her said late husband made a Will & gave his personall Estate to this Defendt or that her said late husbands personall Estate consisted chiefly in Debts & Creditts and that the same were in the hands of Poor Insolvent Persons  And this Defendt is very well satisfied & Doubts not but that itt will appare to this Honorable Court that upon a Fair Account stated between the Complt & this Defendt the said Complt is indebted to this Defendt"

[signed] Tho: Lutwych


Notes

Anthony Godwyn married Elizabeth Adams at Little Horwood in 1683. Their daughters Mary and Elizabeth were baptised there in 1684 and 1688 respectively.  Anthony was buried there in 1706.  “Mr Forster” who preached the sermon was Samuel Foster, vicar there from 1701.  Elizabeth was buried there in 1729 aged 76.  She appears to be the Elizabeth Godwin of St Clement Danes, widow, who made her will on 4 Nov 1729 leaving everything to her daughter Elizabeth Tutte (wife of Francis Tutte) as the first witness was John Markham the Winslow lawyer; it was proved on 7 Nov (National Archives, PROB 11/633/133).

Philip Egerton was the son of the rector of Adstock (see administration of Mary Egerton, 1709), and established himself as a mercer in Winslow in 1706 in part of The Angel. Nicholas Godwin the brother who charged so heavily for his brother's board was presumably the yeoman of Mursley of that name (will proved 1715).

Anthony didn't own property in Winslow but appears in the manor court records as a mortgagee. He must have rented a house from "Mr Elliott". He is referred to as "gentleman", and his funeral seems to have been in gentlemanly style. He was the son of John Godwin, baptised at Swanbourne in 1646; Nicholas was baptised there in 1640. Roger Adams, son of Thomas, was baptised at Swanbourne in 1679.

The difference between Philip and Elizabeth in the estimated value of Anthony's estate is no doubt due to exaggeration on both sides. The funeral was extremely costly for someone whose total effects supposedly amounted to about £110. Elizabeth is unlikely to have succeeded in getting Philip to pay for his wife's maintenance before she was married. Unfortunately the outcome of the case is unknown, and both parties seem to have left Winslow soon afterwards.

Copyright 26 May, 2018