The 1672 will of John Elliott of Ratcliffe

In yesterday’s post about my possible ancestor Elizabeth Greene (formerly Elliott, née Leete) I mentioned that I’d found the last will and testament of her first husband, John Elliott, a house carpenter of Ratcliffe, Stepney, who died in 1674. In this post, I want to share my transcription of the will and then discuss what I think we can learn from it. Here’s the transcription, retaining the original spelling, punctuation and emphasis:

In the Name of God Amen. The fowerteenth day of February Anno Dom 1672 And in the five and Twentyeth yeare of the Raigne of our Soveraigne Lord Charles the second by the grace of God of England Scotland France and Ireland King Defender of the Faith ~ I John Eliott of Ratcliffe in the parish of Stepney in the County of Middx house carpenter being Sick in body but of good and perfect memory thanks be to Almighty God, and calling to minde the uncertaine state of this Transitory life and that All flesh must yield unto death when it shall please God Doe make constitute ordaine and declare this my last will and Testament Revoakeing Recalling nulling and by these xxx making voyd (all?) and every Testament and Testaments Will and Wills heretofore by me made ~ Declared either by voice or wrighting and this is to be taken onely for my last Will and Testament and noe other And first and Principally being penitent and sorry from the bottom of my heart for my past most humbly desireing forgiveness for the same I give and Committ my Soul unto Almighty God my Saviour and Redeemer in whom and by the Merritts of Jesus Christ I trust and believe Assuredly to be saved and to have full Remission anJd forgiveness of all my Sins and that my Soul with my body att the general day of Resurrection shall Life again with joy and through the Merritts of Christs death and passion possesse an Inherrett the Kingdom of Heaven prepared for his elect and Chosen And my body I commit to the earth to be decently buried att the discression of my Executrix hereafter named And now for the settling of my Temporal affares and such good Chattles and debts as it hath pleased God far above my desserts to bestow uppon me I doe order give and dispose of the same in manner and forme following (that is to say) first I will that all those debts and duties as I owe in wright or conscience (?) to any manner of person or persons whatsoever shall be well and truly contented (?) and paid or ordayned to be paid within Convenient time after my decease And all other my funerall expenses discharged by my Executrix hereafter named Ittem I will give and bequeath unto my loving daughter Elizabeth Elliot Eight small houses that I hold by Lease amongst other tenements from Samuell Jones of Walthamstow in the County of Essex Gentleman four of the said houses butteth appon or near Schoolhouse lane in the possession of Charles Wisman and Mrs                Midges (?) and others, the other four houses by me willed and bequeathed unto my said Loveing Daughter Elizabeth Elliott, Abutting appon A bridge leading to Stepney which said bridge is appon a Roapwalke in the possession of Edward Barthlett or his Assignes and the houses of Tenements are in the possession of John Staterton (?) and Mr (?)           Taylor and others, all the Eight houses or tenements before mentioned my minde and will is that my said Loveing Daughter Elizabeth Elliott shall enjoy the same dureing all the terme of yeares whereby I hold the same by lease And further my minde and Will is that my Executrix hereafter named shall pay or cause to be paid unto the Landlord or Landlords of the premises (?) the sume of tenn pounds per annum which said sume I have covenanted to pay, in the said lease which I  hold the said Messuages or Tenements by, And in case my Executrix shall Refuse or neglect to pay the said  ground Rent and appon such Refusall or non payment the Landlord or Landlords their Lawfull Attorneyes Executors Adminstrators or Assignes shall make or levey any distresse (?) or distresses (?) for the said for the said ground Rents appon any of the Eight houses in this my Will named which I have given to my said daughter Elizabeth Elliot, or eject any of the Tennants that now and or hereafter shall live in any of the said houses during all the terme of yeares yett to come and unexpired in the said lease for the non payment of the Rent aforesaid Then my will is And I doe give unto my very Loveing daughter Elizabeth Eliott Two Messuages or Tenements now in the possession of William Manyard and Mr           Collins which said Messuages or Tenements are in the same Lease I hold of the said Samuell Jones one of them being the Corner house butting appon a passage way Leading to Stepney Church near to severall houses of Anthony Faston (?) and the other Messuages next adjoyning to that, which said Messuages or Tenements I give unto my said daughter Elizabeth Eliott for the payment of such ground Rent if any distress (?) or xxx be made of or in any of the Eight houses which in this my will I have given to my said daughter Elizabeth Eliott And my will is that she shall enjoy the same all the Remaynder or Terme of yeares then to come and unexpired in the said Lease Ittem I will give and bequeath unto my very Loveing Kinsman Joseph Elliot son of Joseph Eliott late of the parish of Stepney in the County of Middx Cooper deceased the sume of five pounds of Lawfull money of England to the putting of him forth to be an Apprentice Ittem I will give and bequeath unto my very Loveing Kinswoman Alice Flintam the daughter of Phillipp Flintam late of Raunds in the County of Northampton deceased the sume of five pounds of good And Lawfull money of England to be paid unto her appon yer daye of Marriage by my Executrix hereafter named Ittem I will give and bequeath unto my wedded Loveing and well beloved wife Elizabeth Eliott the Lease that I hould of Mr John Hyland of Mitcham in the County of Surrey which said premises (?) in the said Lease Mentioned and Situate in Ratcliffe in the parish of Stepney in the County of Middx for and during all the Terme of yeares yett to com and unexpired in the said Lease Ittem I will give and bequeath unto my said wife Elizabeth Elliot all the Remainder of that Lease I hold of the said Samuell Jones of Walthamstow Aforesaid That I have not willed nor bequeathed unto my very Loveing daughter Elizabeth Elliott all which said houses Tenements and premises are Sittuate in Ratcliffe in the parish of Stepney And in the County of Middlx Aforesaid for all the terme of yeares yett to come and unexpired in the said Lease All the Rest and Remaynder of my Estate whatsoever not in this my Will bequeathed in what kinde nature or quallity soever the same shall be found in after my decease I will give and bequeath unto my wedded Loveing and well beloved wife Elizabeth Eliot whom I do by these presents make the Sole Executrix of this my Last Will and Testament And I doe desire my very Loveing friends Josias Westwood of wapping in the parish of Whitechappell Chirurgeon and Thomas Sumerly of St Pauls Shadwell Scrivener to be the overseers of this my will And to be Assistants to my Executrix to se the same performed as I have Willed In wittnesse whereof I the said John Eliott to this my last Will and Testament being contained in Nine Sheets of papper have sett my hand, And my Seale fixed by a Labell on the top thereof the day and yeare first above written

Subscribed sealed published and declared by the Testator John Eliott as his last Will and Testament in the presence of

Josias Westwood

Thos Sumerly

The first curiosity about John Elliott’s will is his description of the year of its composition – 1672 – as the twenty-fifth year of the reign of Charles II. But wasn’t the Restoration in 1660, only twelve years before this will was written? The solution would appear to lie in the fact that, following the Restoration, all legal documents were dated as if Charles had succeeded his father in 1649. However, on that basis, 1672 would surely have been the twenty-fourth rather than the twenty-fifth year of his reign? Either way, we can take this as a legal nicety rather than a reflection of John Elliott’s loyalty to the King: from his later expressions of faith, I surmise that he was something of a Puritan, and therefore probably had no great affection for Charles. Those expressions of religious faith are even more extensive and tinged with Puritan theology than other wills that I’ve examined: John Elliott’s repeated reference to the ‘merits’ of Christ’s death and his mention of the ‘elect and chosen’ mark him out as a committed Calvinist.

Puritan family

Nevertheless, Elliott appears to have prospered in worldly terms. As mentioned in the last post, he only mentions one surviving child – Elizabeth, who would have been nine years old at this date – to whom he is able to leave a considerable amount of property. Clearly, he must have been a successful master carpenter, with a business of his own, rather than a mere journeyman. Elliott appears to have owned four houses in Stepney, and a further eight in Walthamstow: like my later, eighteenth-century ancestors, John Elliott seems to have invested some of his wealth in property in the country. When I first read the will, I wondered if there was any connection with the fact that Mary Greene, granddaughter of Captain William Greene, would purchase an estate in Waltham Abbey some half a century later, but the two places are actually ten miles apart.

Walthamstow windmill

What can we say about the other family members mentioned in John Eliot’s will? As with other wills I’ve analysed, a certain vagueness about the precise nature of family relationships makes it difficult to piece together the family tree. John refers to ‘my very Loveing Kinswoman Alice Flintam the daughter of Phillipp Flintam late of Raunds in the County of Northampton deceased’. What does ‘kinswoman’ mean here: is she a blood relative, or related to John by marriage? Either way, it suggests possible Northamptonshire roots for John or his wife Elizabeth. A whole host of Flintams – or Flinthams or Flynthams – can be found in the records for Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire.

We can be more positive about another relative – John’s kinsman Joseph Elliott, to whom he leaves money to pay for an apprenticeship. Joseph was almost certainly the person christened at St Dunstan’s, Stepney on 18th January 1659, meaning that he would have been thirteen years old when John Elliott’s will was written, precisely the age when boys seem to have begun their apprenticeships. Confirming what we learn from the will, he was the son of Joseph Elliott senior, a cooper, and his wife Anna. At the time their address was what looks like ‘Goodmayd Lane’, though earlier records place them at the Hermitage, a district close to St Katharine’s-by-the-Tower. Joseph junior was the youngest of five children, his siblings being Jane (date of birth unknown), Joanna (1651), John (1654) and Anne (1655). All were baptised at St Dunstan’s, suggesting a family connection with the parish.

A cooper

Joseph Elliott junior’s mother Anna died in April, 1659, shortly after giving birth to him. His father, Joseph senior, composed his own last will and testament in the following year – the year in which Charles II was restored to the throne of England. The will was proven in 1661, though I’ve yet to find a record of his burial. Joseph Elliott’s will mentions, among other beneficiaries, his sister-in-law Katharine Ekins: presumably his late wife’s sister.

At this stage, we don’t know the precise relationship between Joseph Elliott, senior or junior, and John Elliott of Ratcliffe. It’s possible that Joseph senior, who appears to have been of the same generation, was John’s brother, and that Joseph junior was therefore his nephew. Despite my best efforts, I’ve yet to find any record of an apprenticeship served by the younger Joseph Elliott. It’s possible, of course, that he died before he could take advantage of John Elliott’s generous gift.

One final thought, for now, about Joseph Elliott. I’ve always wondered why my 8 x great grandparents, Captain William Greene and his wife Elizabeth, named their son, my 7 x great grandfather, born in 1677, Joseph. I’ve found plenty of Williams, Johns and even Bartholomews among the seafaring Greenes of Stepney – but not a single Joseph. It’s possible that Joseph was the name of Captain Greene’s (as yet undiscovered) father, or of some other close relative. However, the discovery of the (possible) connection with the Elliott family raises another possibility. What if the name was chosen by the child’s mother, Elizabeth, in memory of a much-loved, perhaps recently deceased relative from the family of her first husband?

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