The inheritance of John Collins

My 5 x great grandmother, Elizabeth Gibson (1733 – 1809), was married twice. I trace my descent, on my mother’s side of the family, from Elizabeth’s second marriage, in 1763, to South Weald farmer Joseph Holdsworth (1735 – 1795). Her first marriage, ten years earlier, was to John Collins, described in their marriage record as a ‘Gent. of Epping Essex’. When I wrote about this marriage in an earlier post, the description of Elizabeth as ‘of Waltham Abbey Essex’ seemed inexplicable. However, since then, I’ve discovered that Elizabeth’s parents, John and Mary Gibson, originally from the parish of St Botolph, Aldgate, were given the property of Woodredon House, Waltham Abbey, by Mary’s mother.

Severs Green near Epping

In other posts, I’ve argued that John Collins was almost certainly the second son of another Epping gentleman, Richard Collins, and his wife Jane. Richard drew up his last will and testament in 1742 and it was proven on 1 March 1748. The will divides his considerable property in Epping and neighbouring areas between his three older sons, Richard, John and William, and also leaves sums of money to his four younger children David, Jane, Sarah and Elizabeth.

At the time that Richard drew up his will, his eldest son Richard would have been 12, his second son John, 9, and his third son William, 3. Of the other children, we don’t know Jane’s date of birth, but Sarah would have been 6, Elizabeth 4, and David 2. There is no mention of their mother Jane, suggesting she was no longer alive (she must have died some time between the birth of David in 1740 and the drawing up of her husband’s will two years later). By the time Richard senior died in 1748, his son Richard junior would have been about 16, John, 15, and William, 9.

Richard junior is the first to be mentioned and is clearly the principal inheritor of his father’s considerable properties in and around Epping. He is to inherit the property known as Turners ‘otherwise Colports otherwise Colworthyes’ in Lindsey Street, Epping, with all its buildings and lands, amounting to ‘by estimation fifteen acres’. This property had been purchased by Richard senior’s father – yet another Richard Collins – from one Stephen Flower. Richard junior is also to inherit a property by the name of Hight Holes with all its lands and buildings ‘situate at or near Lindsey Street’ amounting to another fifteen acres, purchased by his grandfather from one Richard Day, gentleman.  This inheritance comes with a condition that Richard junior pays the sum of 200 pounds to his younger brother William.

William is to inherit all the property and land associated with the messuage or tenement lived in by one William Rumball ‘called or known by the name or sign of the George’, which, given that it has granaries and maltshops attached, was probably the village inn.

As for John Collins, I’ll cite his inheritance in full:

I give and devise unto my second son John Collins and his heirs all that my freehold messuage or tenement called or known by the name of Deacons situate and being at Stivyers Green in the parish of Epping aforesaid with the Barns Stables Outhouses Yards Gardens Orchards and Appurtenances thereto belonging and also all and singular the Lands Meadows Pastures and Hereditaments whatsoever as well freehold and copyhold to the same Messuage or Tenement belonging and therewith now used occupied or enjoyed containing in the whole by estimation thirty acres be the same more or less lying and being in the several parishes of Epping aforesaid and Great Parringdon otherwise Parndon in the said County of Essex late in the Occupation of William Greygoose and now of Stephen Holton or his Undertenants and which I purchased of and from George Hayes and Elizabeth his wife with their and every of their Rights and Appurtenances and also all that my other freehold Messuage or Tenement called or known by the name of Westmill situate and being at or near Stivyers Green aforesaid in Epping aforesaid with Barns Stables Cowhouses Outhouses Yards and Gardens Orchards and Appurtenances thereto belonging and also all and singular the Lands Meadows Pastures Woodgrounds and Hereditaments whatsoever to the said last mentioned Messuage belonging containing together by Estimation twenty six acress and three roods be the same more or less lying or being in the several parishes of Epping and Great Parringdon otherwise Parndon aforesaid and now in the Occupations of me and the said Stephen Holton or his assigns with their and every of their Rights and Appurtenances To hold the said two several Messuages or Tenements Lands Hereditaments and Premises hereinbefore last mentioned with their and every of their Appurtenances unto and to the use of my said Son John Collins his heirs and assigns forever.

Stivyers, Stivers, Severs or Sivers Green (also known as Chivers Green) appears on old maps as a small hamlet to the north of Epping, between Epping and Great Parndon. According to my best guess, it was roughly where Rye Hill Road and Parndon Wood Cemetery are today.

Old map of Epping (date unknown) showing Sivers (Stivyers) Green

In the catalogue of Essex Archives Online, there is reference to a document relating to the Copped Hall estate, Epping, containing ‘Deeds of Messuage called Deacons and another messuage, both at Chivers (Stivyers) Green, lands called West Mills, Epping and Great Parndon’. The dates given are 1757-1763. Since this coincides almost exactly with the period when John Collins would have been in possession of these properties, it would be very interesting to see these deeds. John married Elizabeth Gibson in 1753 and reached the age of 21 in the following year. The date of his death is unknown, but Elizabeth contracted her second marriage, to Joseph Holdsworth, in 1763, so the second date on this document may not be a coincidence: it could be the date when ownership passed from the recently deceased John Collins to another owner.

It’s interesting that these properties were part of the Copped Hall estate. Copped Hall, owned by the Conyers family, was to the west of Epping, and on the western borders of the estate was Woodredon Hall, owned by the Gibsons. In fact, when you see Woodredon and the properties in Epping owned by the Collins family on the same map, it’s easy to understand how Elizabeth Gibson came to meet John Collins, who was exactly the same age as her. Today, the area is bisected by the M25 motorway, between junctions 26 and  27.

Old map (date unknown) showing Epping, Copped Hall and Woodredon

I wonder if John and Elizabeth Collins lived on one of John’s inherited properties after their marriage in 1753? So far, I’ve failed to find any evidence of John’s death, but perhaps pursuing the records associated with these properties in Epping and Great Parndon will shed some light on this mystery.

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