The will of John Harman, merchant of Lewes (died 1600)

My 13 x great grandfather Gabriel Fowle (1507 – 1555), who was master of the Free Grammar School in Southover, Lewes, in Sussex, is said to have had two children. One was my 12 x great grandfather Magnus Fowle (died 1596) and the other was his sister Agnes. (Was it a playful sense of humour that made Gabriel give Magnus and Agnes these similar, rhyming names?)

Former All Saints church, Lewes, now an arts and crafts centre

Former All Saints church, Lewes, now an arts and crafts centre

Agnes Fowle was probably born in about 1530, during the reign of Henry VIII, and was perhaps married some twenty or so years later, under Edward VI. Her husband was John Harman, a Lewes merchant. (Coincidentally, as I was researching him, I was reading Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend, in which the name of the hero is John Harmon.) We know that Harman was involved in the export to continental ports of materials from the thriving Wealden iron industry.

John Harman made his will in August 1599, during the thirty-ninth year of the reign of Elizabeth I. My transcription of the will follows: as usual, I have endeavoured to keep to the original spelling and punctuation and have inserted a question mark (?) where I’m unsure of a word’s meaning. I’ll discuss what the will tells us about John Harman and his family in the next post.

In the name of god amen: The seaventeenth daie of August in the yeare of our Lord god a thousand five hundred nyntie nyne: and in the one and fortieth yeare of the raigne of our soveraigne Ladie Elizabeth by the grace of god Queene of England France and Ireland and defender of the faith etc: I John Harman the elder of Lewes in the countie of Sussex merchant beinge by reason of myne age and other infirmities weake in body yet of good and perfecte remembrance, doe make ordaine and declare this my present Testament and Last will in manner and forme following, that is to saye first and before all other thinges asytive(?) most meete; I doe comende my soule into the hands of Almightie god my creator and saviour, And doe will that my bodie shalbe buried in the church or churchyard of All Saints in Lewes at the direction of my executrix, hopinge assuredlie that the same body shall rise againe incorruptible in the general resurrection, Item whereas John Harman the yonger my sonne by his Indenture bearing date the seaventh day of this instant moneth of August for the consideracion therein appressed (?) hath consented(?) and granted for him his heires executors and administrators to paye and distribute at my guifte within two monethes next after my decease the some of one hundred and fyftie poundes of good and Lawfull money of England to such person and persons as I the sayde John Harman the elder shoulde noiate (?) and appointe by my last will and testament as by the same indenture sealed with his seale more plainly doth and maye appeare Nowe for a plaine declaration of my will howe and in what manner the sayd hundred and fyftie poundes shalbe paide distributed and bestowed I doe ordaine will and appointe as followeth that the said John Harman my sonne his heires executors administrator [or] assignes shall within two monthes next after my decease paye or cause to be paide to John Smith my Sonne in Lawe to the use and behoofe of Richard Smith Sonne of the saide John Smith as my guifte and legacie the some of twentie poundes of good and Lawfull money of England to be used and imployed to the use of the sayde Richard Smith his sonne untill he shall accomplish his full age of one and twenie years. And also shall within the tyme above lymitted paye or cause to be payde to the sayd John Smith my Sonne in Lawe to the use and befoofe of Thomas Smith Sonne of the sayde John Smith as my guyfte and Legacie other twentie pounds of good and Lawfull money of England, to be likewise used and imployed to the use of the sayde Thomas Smith his sonne untill he shall accomplyshe his full age of one and twentie yeares soe as my sayd sonne in Lawe John Smith do before the paymente to the sayde Richard and Thomas according to the intent of this my will, And yf my sayd Sonne in Law John Smith cannot ord doe refuse to become bounde with good sureties to my overssers for the trewe payment of the sayde Legacies to his sayd sonnes at their said ages, Then I do desire and appointe my overtssers or the survivor of them to take upp and receive of my sayd sonne John Harman his executors or adminstrators the sayd fortie poundes to the use and for the sayd Richd and Thomas Smith and to imploye the same for them and their uses to some gayne and profitte untill they the sayde Richard and Thomas Smith shall be of the age of one and twentie yeares, or if my overseers thynke yt good to suffer John Harman my sonne to have and reteyne the same Legacies untill their sayde ages takeinge bonde of my sayde sonne John Harman for the trewe payment of the same with some reasonable benifitt to the sayd Richard and Thomas at their sayde ages. Item I doe ordaine will and appoynte that my sayde sonne John Harman his executors administrators or Assignes shall likewise within two monethes next after my decease paye or cause to be payde to Hamon Hardyman my other sonne in Lawe to the use and befoofe of John Hardyman his sonne other twentie poundes of good and lawfull money of England as my guifte and legacie to be used and imployed to the use of the sayde John Hardyman his sonne untill he shall accomplishe his age of one and twentie yeares and shall also within the tyme above lymitted paye or cause to be payde to the saide Hamond Hardyman my Sonne in Law to the use and behoofe of Edward Hardyman his sonn other twentie poundes of good and lawfull money of England as my guifte and Legacie to be likewise used and imployed to the use of the sayd Edward Hardyman untill his age of one and twentie yeares: And shall also within the tyme above lymitted paye or cause to be payde to my sayd Sonne in Lawe Hamond Hardyman to the use and behoofe of Elizabeth Hardyman his daughter other twentye poundes of good and lawfull money of England as my guifte and Legacie to be likewise used and imployed to her use untill she shall accomplish her age of one and twentie yeares or be married which shall first happen. And shall also paye or cause to be to be payde within the tyme above lymitted to the sayd Hamond Hardyman my sonne in lawe to the use of Agnes Hardyman his other daughter as my guifte and Legacie other twentie poundes of good and lawful money of England to be likewise used and imployed to the use of the sayde Agnes untill she shall accomplishe the like age of one and twentie yeares or be married which shall first happen so as my sayd sonne in law Hamond Hardyman do before the receipt and payment thereof putt in good bonde to my overseers, of this my will for the trewe payment of the sayd legacies to the sayd John Hardyman Edward Hardyman Elizabeth Hardyman and Agnes Hardyman according to the intens of this my will. And yf my sayde sonne in lawe Hamond Hardyman cannott or doe refuse to become bonde with good securities to my overseers for the trew payment of the sayde legacies to his sayd Children at the tymes above lymitted Then I do desire and appointe my overseers or the survivor of them to take up and receave of my my sayd sonne John Harman his executors administrators the said somes of money appointed for the sayde John Hardyman, Edward Hardyman Elizabeth Hardyman and Agnes Hardyman to their uses, and to imploye the same for them and their uses to some gayne and profit untill they the sayde John Hardyman, Edward Hardyman, Elizabeth and Agnes Hardyman shalbe of the sayde ages of one and twentie yeares or the sayde Elizabeth and Agnes be married which shall first happen, or yf my overseers thinke yt good to suffer the sayde John Harman my sonne to have and receyve the same legacies untill the sayd John Hardyman and Richard shall accomplishe their sayd ages and untill the sayd Elizabeth and Agnes shall likewise accompishe their sayde ages or be married as aforesaid taking bonnde of my said son John Harman for the true payment of the same with some reasonable yearlye benefit and increase to the said John Hardyman Edward Hardyman Elizabeth and Agnes Hardyman. Item I doe ordaine will and appointe that the sayd John Harman my sonne shall paye or cause to be payde to Nicholas Bonwicke als Bonycke my other sonne in lawe to the use of the children which he now hath by my daughter  Agnes his wife, as my guyfte and legacies the some of thirtie poundes of good and lawfull money of England to be equallie devided amonst them at their ages of one and twentie yeares, and in the meane tyme to be imployed to theire uses and I will that the sayde Nicholas Bonwicke als Bonyke shall likewise becomes bounde to my overseers for the trewe payment thereof to them accordingly which somes of money before appoynted to be payd and distributed doe make up the full some of one hundred and fyftie poundes The resydue of all my goods chattells plate money and household stuffe which I have reserved f rom my sayde sonne John Harman out of the sayde Indentures and all of my goodes chattels and debts whatsoever I do give and bequeath to all my daughters equallie to be devided amongst them. And I ordaine and make Marie Hardyman my daughter my sole Executrix of this my last will and testament: And I doe appointe and desire my good and trustie friendes John Puckell Richard Ridder Thomas Caren and Abraham James, to be my overseers of this my will and aide my Executrix in the execution and performance thereof: And I doe gyve and bequeath to eyther of them Six shillings and eight pence, for theire paines. And I doe desire Henry Fitzherbert and Jerman Hardyman my Neighbour to be witnesses of this my will beinge written in three sheets of paper to every sheet thereof I have written my name with my owne handed and on the tope of them have sett my seale. By me John Harman the elder; Henry Fitzherbert Jerman Hardyman his marke witnesses.

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