Reflections on the will of Richard Collins of Shenfield

What do we learn from the last will and testament of Richard Collins of Shenfield, Essex, who died in 1770? Firstly, we discover that, some time between 1757, when he and his wife Ann were living at Passmores in Great Parndon, and 1763, when Richard made his will, they moved to Shenfield, some eighteen or so miles away. The most logical explanation is that Ann inherited property in the area, following the death of her father John Champain in 1756. Alternatively, Richard may have used his considerable resources to purchase a house in this part of the county. However, the former explanation would fit with the decision of John Champain to be buried in the village of South Weald, just two or three miles from Shenfield. Indeed it’s possible, given the proximity of the two places, that Richard and Ann Collins’ residence was actually in the parish where Ann’s father John was buried.

Old map showing Shenfield and South Weald

Old map showing Shenfield and South Weald

There is no mention in the will of Richard’s younger brother John, which suggests that he might have died by January 1763, when the will was signed and sealed. This would make sense, since John’s widow, my 5 x great grandmother Elizabeth Collins née Gibson, would marry her second husband, Joseph Holdsworth of South Weald, on 20th May in that same year. On the other hand, Richard’s will makes no reference to any other of his siblings: William, Sarah, Jane or David. It’s possible that they too had died by this time, but it’s also possible that Richard made a deliberate decision to devote his attention to securing the future of his immediate family – his wife and two children.

The will confirms the names of Richard and Ann Collins’ children – Champain and Ann. As I’ve noted before, we have a record of Ann’s baptism in 1757, but as yet no evidence of her brother Champain’s birth has come to light. Their father’s will is useful in confirming that neither child had come of age by the time he wrote his will in 1763: Ann would have been six years old, while Champain could have been anything up to fifteen years old, since his parents married in 1747.

We learn that, despite his change of address, Richard Collins still owned property in Lindsey Street, Epping: presumably this is the property that he inherited from his father Richard Collins senior. At the time that the will was written it was occupied by Joseph Enniver, who was one of the executors of the will of Richard’s father. This property is to devolve to Champain Collins, as is that at Epping Long Green, currently occupied by a John Severns: I wonder if this property had belonged to Richard’s father in law John Champain, who was living in that area when he died in 1756? We learn that Richard’s daughter Ann Collins is to inherit property in Epping town ‘known by the name or sign of the Black Lyon’, currently occupied by Thomas Madewell, as well as other properties there occupied by Richard Smith and John Neale. Richard Collins’ wife Ann is appointed as sole executor of his will and as guardian of their children and their estates during their respective minorities.

The witnesses to the will include Philip Martin, the other executor of the will of Richard Collins senior; a certain William Griffin; and a man by the name of John Windus. I’ve discovered that in October 1757 John Windus was apprenticed to Philip Martin of Theydon Garnon, Essex, an attorney. This would explain the latter’s name occurring in so many documents relating to the Collins family: he must have been the family’s lawyer. A little over a year after Richard Collins made his will, John Windus, a gentleman of the parish of Theydon Garnon, declared his intention to marry Ann Uffindall.

So Richard and Ann Collins had moved to the Shenfield area some time between 1757, when their daughter Ann was baptised in Great Parndon, and 1763, when Richard wrote his will. In doing so, they were moving close to the burial place of Ann’s father John Champain, at South Weald. We know that Richard’s younger brother John must have died some time between 1759, when his daughter Frances was born, and 1763, when his wife Elizabeth remarried. It would have been the most natural thing in the world for Elizabeth, newly widowed and with a very young child, to spend some time with her brother-in-law and sister-in-law, and perhaps it was through them that she met her second husband, Joseph Holdsworth, a South Weald farmer. The other important event in Elizabeth’s life around this time was the death of her father John Gibson in February 1763, soon after Richard Collins wrote his will. This might have impelled Elizabeth to spend some time with her widowed mother Mary in London, but equally it might have compounded her sense of loss and her need for financial security, especially as it appears that her father might have died intestate.

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Email problems

The email account that I use for this site appears to have been hacked. Apologies to anyone who has received fake emails from me, appealing for money: this is NOT me. And my inbox has been emptied, so I have no record of previous emails. For now, please do NOT send emails to my usual account, but instead I’d be grateful if you could contact me at this address:

martinmargins@btinternet.com

Martin Robb

Update: Monday 25th August. The problem seems to have been fixed. It’s now OK to send me emails at my usual address – mprobb@btinternet.com

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The last will and testament of Richard Collins of Shenfield

I’ve been exploring the life of Richard Collins, the brother of John Collins who was the first husband of my 5 x great grandmother Elizabeth Gibson, and his wife Ann Champain. By the time he made his will in 1763, Richard had apparently moved from Epping to Shenfield. In this post, I’m reproducing my transcription of the will, and in another post I’ll reflect on what we can learn from it.

Parish church of St Mary the Virgin, Shenfield, Essex

Parish church of St Mary the Virgin, Shenfield, Essex (via geograph.org.uk)

In the Name of God Amen. I Richard Collins of Shenfield in the County of Essex Gentleman being of sound mind memory and understanding praised be Almighty God for the same but considering the Great uncertainty of human life do hereby make and Ordain this my last Will and Testament in manner following (that is to say) First I resign my Soul into the hands of Almighty God my Creator and my Body I Commit to the Earth to be Decently Buried at the Discretion of my Executrix hereinafter named and as to such Real and Personal Estates as it hath pleased Almighty God to bestow upon me I Dispose thereof as followeth And First I Give and Devise unto my only Son Champain Collins and his heirs All that my Copyhold Messuage or Tenement with the Barns Stables Outhouses Buildings Yards Gardens Orchards and Appurts and also all and Singular the Several Fields Closes pieces and parcels of Arable Meadow and pasture Ground to the same belonging and therewith now Occupyed and Enjoyed containing further by Estimation thirty seven Acres be the same more or less as the said Messuage or Tenement Lands and premises are Situate lying and being at or near Lindsey Street in the parish of Epping in the said County of Essex and now in the Tenure or Occupation of Joseph Ennever And also all that my Freehold Messuage or Tenement with the Barns Stables Outhouses Buildings yards Gardens Orchards and Appurts and also all the Arable Meadow and pasture Lands to the same belonging and therewith now Occupied and Enjoyed as the last mentioned Messuage or Tenement Lands and premisses were [???] lying and being at or near Epping Long Green in the parish of Epping aforesaid and now in the Tenure or Occupation of John Severns [?] To Hold the said Several Messuages or Tenements Lands and premisses with their [???] of their Appurts unto and to the use of my said son Champain Collins his heirs and Assigns for ever But in Case my said Son Champain Collins shall happen to dye before he attains the Age of Twenty one years and without Issue of his Body lawfully begotten then and in such Case I Give and Devise the aforesaid Messuages or Tenements Lands and premisses with their Appurts unto and to the use of my only Daughter Ann Collins her heirs and Assigns for ever and in Case my said Daughter Ann Collins shall happen to Dye before she shall attain her Age of Twenty one years and without heirs of her Body lawfully begotten Then and in such Case I Give and Devise the aforesaid Messuages or Tenements Lands and heredit[amen]ts with their and [???] of their Appurts unto and to the use of my Dear and loving Wife Ann Collins her heirs and Assigns for ever And It is my mind and will and I do hereby Direct that my said Wife Ann Collins shall receive collect take and manage the Rents and profits of all my said messuages or Tenements Lands and premisses for her own use and Benefit until my said Son Champain Collins shall attain his Age of Twenty one years She my said Wife thereout paying and discharging the Fines Stewards fees and all other Charges which shall become due or payable for or on Account of my said Sons Admission to the said Copyhold Estate hereintofore devised to him as aforesaid and also finding providing and allowing to my said son Good and sufficient Meat Drink Washing Lodging Schooling Education [???] and all other necessarys whatsoever and also keeping the said premisses in Good and Tenantable Repair Also I Give and Devise unto my only Daughter the said Ann Collins Spinster and her heirs Also that my Copyhold Messuage or Tenement called or known by the name or sign of the Black Lyon with the Barns Stables Outhouses Buildings Yards Gardens Outhouses and Appurts and also all those two Acres of pasture Ground therewith now used and Occupyed as the said last mentioned Messuage or Tenement Lands and premisses are situate lying and being in the Town of Epping aforesaid and now in the Tenure or Occupation of Thomas Madewell And also all that my Messuages Tenement with the Barns Stables Outhouses Buildings Yards Gardens Orchards and Appurts and also all and Singular the Several Fields Closes pieces and parcels of Arable Meadow and pasture Land to the same belonging and therewith no used Occupied and Enjoyed as the said last mentioned Messuage or Tenement Lands and premises are situate lying and being in the parish of Epping aforesaid and are now in the Occupation of Richard Smith And also all that Cottage or Tenement with the Appurts Situate and being in Epping aforesaid and near adjoining to the said last mentioned Messuage or Tenement and now in the Tenure or Occupation of John Neale To Hold the said last mentioned Messuages or Tenements Cottages Lands and premisses with their and every of their appurts unto and to the use of my said Daughter Ann Collins her heirs and Assigns for ever But in Case my said Daughter Ann Collins shall happen to Dye before she attains the Age of Twenty one years and without Issue of her Body lawfully begotten Then and in such Case I Give and Devise the said last mentioned Messuages or Tenements Cottages Lands and premises with their Appurts unto and to the use of my said Son Champain Collins his heirs and Assigns for ever And in Case my said Son Champain Collins shall happen to Dye before he shall attain his Age of twenty one years and without heirs of his Body lawfully begotten then and in such Case I Give and Devise the said last mentioned Messuages or Tenements Cottage Lands and Hereditts with their and every of their Appurts unto and to the use of my said Wife Ann Collins her heirs and Assigns for ever and It is my Mind and Will and I do hereby Direct that my said Wife Ann Collins shall receive collect take and manage the Rents and profits of all my said last mentioned Messuages and Tenements Cottages Lands and premises for her own use and Benefit untill my said Daughter Ann Collins shall attain her Age of Twenty two years she my said Wife thereout paying and Discharging the fines Stewards fees and the other Charges which shall become due on payable for or on Account of my said Daughters Admission to the said Copyhold Estates herein before Devised to her as aforesaid and also finding providing and allowing my said Daughter Good and Sufficient Meat Drink Washing [???] Schooling Education Cloathing and all other Messuages whatsoever and also keeping the said premises in Good and Tenantable Repair And as for and Concerning all my ready money Securitys for Money Household Goods and like furniture and all other my Goods Chattels and personal Estate whatsoever and wheresoever after my Debts and funeral Expenses are paid and Satisfied I Give and bequeath the same unto my Said Wife Ann Collins her Executors and Adm[inistrat]ors And I Do hereby nominate and Appoint my said Wife Ann Collins Sole Executor of this my last Will and Testament hereby revoking all former Wills by me at any time heretofore made And I do hereby Will and Direct that my said Wife Ann Collins Shall be Guardian to and have the Care Custody and Tuition of my Said Children and of their respective Estates during respective Minoritys In Witness whereof I the said Richard Collins have to this my last Will and Testament contained in three Sheets of paper set my hand to the first two Sheets thereof and my hand and Seal to the last Sheet thereof the Eleventh Day of January in the third year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord George the Third by the Grace of God of Great Britain France and Ireland King Defender of the Faith And in the year of our Lord One thousand Seven hundred and Sixty three, Richd. Collins – Signed Sealed published and Delivered by the said Richard Collins as and for his last Will and Testament in the presence of us who at his request in his presence and in the presence of each other have Subscribed our names as Witnesses to the same John Windus. Wm Griffin. Phil. Martin.

On the tenth Day of July in the year of our Lord One thousand Seven hundred and Seventy Administration (with the Will annexed) of the Goods Chattels and Credits of Richards Collins late of Shenfield in the County of Essex Deceased Granted to David Baker a principal Creditor of the said deceased having been first sworn duly to Administer Ann Collins Widow the Relict of the said deceased Sole Ex[ecu]t[o]r and Residuary Legatee named in the said Will having first renounced the Execution thereof. Ex[ecute]d.

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Some thoughts on the will of John Champain (died 1756)

What can we learn from the last will and testament of John Champain, the London citizen and wine cooper who died in 1756, and what light, if any, can it throw on the lives of his daughter Ann, her husband Richard Collins – and their sister-in-law, my 5 x great grandmother Elizabeth Gibson?

John Champain made his will in 1750, six years before his death. By this time, his son James Champain had been married to his first wife Hannah for six years and they had three young children. John’s other surviving child, his daughter Ann Champain, had been married to Richard Collins of Epping for three years. As for John himself, we learn that he is definitely ‘late’ of Thames Street, London, and now very firmly of Epping Long Green. This suggests that John might already have passed the family business on to his son James, who we know was living in London and working as a wine merchant. We can also assume, from the fact that she is not mentioned in the will, that John’s second wife Sarah Stumphousen, whom he married in 1735, had died by the time he made his will.

The most frustrating thing about John Champain’s will is that its main business appears to have been conducted elsewhere. We learn that John has already ‘fully advanced’ his daughter Ann (was this the marriage settlement of £1200 made in 1747, or does it refer to some other payment or legacy?), and at the same time his will gives no details of the remaining ‘Estates and Effects’ bequeathed to his son James. We know from his own will of 1781 that James Champain owned property in Essex, presumably inherited from his father, but that document is equally lacking in details.

Passmores House in 1974

Passmores House in 1974

Did John Champain’s bequest to his daughter Ann include Passmores, the country house in Great Parndon where Richard and Ann Collins would be living in the year after his death? (Great Parndon or Parringdon is about six miles north of Epping, and now part of the new town of Harlow.) We know that the couple had two children: a son, Champain Collins, and a daughter Ann. As yet I haven’t been able to find any evidence of the former’s birth, but some time ago I came across a reference to Ann’s baptism, on 26th April 1757, in the parish records of Great Parndon church. According to the register, Ann was the daughter of Richard and Ann Collins of Passmores.

We know that Passmores was still in the family in 1771 when, according to one source, ‘Mrs Collins of Epping’ held the manor (Ann had been widowed in the previous year.) The same source states that from 1775 Passmores was owned or occupied by ‘Mr. Collins.’ I believe that this was Richard and Ann’s son Champain, who is named as owner of the property, and ‘son and heir of Richard Collins’, in a document of 1778 concerning the assignment of a mortgage in relation to the ‘Manor of Passmores and capital messuage called Passmores and land in Great Parndon’, and a similar document concerning a mortgage of £1500. These documents concerned the transfer of the property to Francis Bayley, whose family was still living there in the 1850s.

Passmores certainly wasn’t among the properties left to Richard by his father Richard Collins senior. The latter did leave some land in Great Parndon to his second son John, and it crossed my mind that these might have passed to Richard, perhaps in the wake of family disapproval of John’s clandestine marriage in 1753 to my ancestor Elizabeth Gibson. However, the name of the property left by his father to John Collins was Deacons, and it is described as being at Stivyers (or Sivers or Chivers) Green, on the borders of Epping and Great Parndon, and thus encompassing land in both parishes. Once again, there is no mention of Passmores. Nor can the property have been inherited from Richard’s maiden aunt Elizabeth Collins, since she would not died until 1761; and anyway, she doesn’t mention Richard in her will.

Passmores and Epping Long Green are visible on this early 19th century map

Passmores and Epping Long Green are visible on this early 19th century map

Since Richard and Ann Collins were living at Passmores in 1757, the year after the death of John Champain, it’s certainly possible that Ann inherited the property as part of the legacy to which her father refers with such frustrating brevity in his will. Another possibility is that Richard Collins bought Passmores at some point. The only reference I’ve found to its earlier ownership is in a document of 1723 which names the owner at that date as Mr John Ellis ‘who holds it in the right of his wife’.

John Champain’s instructions for his burial are as oblique as his bequests to his children:

I desire to be buried according to such directions as I shall leave in writing for that purpose but in case I leave no such directions then I desire my Funeral may be decent and private at the discretion of my Executor. 

However, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I discovered a record of John’s burial in the parish registers, not of Epping or Great Parnford as one would expect, but of St Peter’s, South Weald, some eighteen miles away. On 4th April 1756, ‘John Champaigne Gentleman of Tower Street London’ was buried in the churchyard there. The reason for this choice of location remains shrouded in mystery, but the record caught my eye because, seven years later, my 5 x great grandmother Elizabeth Collins née Gibson, now a widow, was married for a second time – to Joseph Holdsworth, originally from Yorkshire but now a yeoman farmer in South Weald, the village where they would live for the next thirty years or so and where their seven children would be born.

Parish church of St Peter, South Weald (via photoanswers.co.uk)

Parish church of St Peter, South Weald (via photoanswers.co.uk)

We know that Richard and Ann Collins would be living in Shenfield, just two or three miles from South Weald, by the time Richard made his will in 1763 (the year of Elizabeth Collins’ marriage to Joseph Holdsworth); he would died seven years later in 1770. Perhaps John Champain, although officially resident at Epping Long Green, also owned property in South Weald, thus explaining his attachment to that parish? And perhaps he bequeathed that property to his daughter Ann, thus explaining how she and her husband Richard came to be living nearby seven years after his death?

I’ve yet to transcribe the last will and testament of Richard Collins, which might throw some light on some of these questions. I’ll share my transcription in another post.

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The last will and testament of John Champain, citizen and wine cooper

I’m continuing to explore the Champain family and their links with my Gibson and Collins ancestors. In earlier posts I’ve discussed James Champain and his family, and in the last post I began to write about his sister Ann Champain who married Richard Collins of Epping, Essex. Their father John Champain, a London wine cooper who retired to Epping Long Green, made his last will and testament in 1750 and died in 1756. In this post I’m sharing my transcription of John’s will, and in the next post I’ll discuss what it can tell us about him and his family.

Thames Street, London, looking towards All Hallows church (via www.londonancestor.com)

Thames Street, London, looking towards All Hallows church (via http://www.londonancestor.com)


This is the last Will and Testament of me John Champain late of Tower Street London Citizen and Wine Cooper but now of Epping Long Green in the County of Essex as follows (that is to say) I desire to be buried according to such directions as I shall leave in writing for that purpose but in case I leave no such directions then I desire my Funeral may be decent and private at the discretion of my Executor. Whereas I have fully advanced my only daughter Anne now the wife of Mr Richard Collins of Epping in the County of Essex Also I do therefore, subject to the payment of my Funeral Expenses and Just Debts, hereby give devise and bequeath all my Estate and Effects whatsoever and wheresover and of what nature or kind soever the same be unto my son James Champain his Heirs Executors Administrators and Assigns for ever And I do revoke all former Wills by me at any time heretofore made and of this my last Will and Testament I make and appoint my said son James Champain sole Executor. In Witness whereof I have to this my last Will and Testament set my hand and seal this third day of October in the twenty fourth year of the Reign of his Majesty King George the Second of Great Britain and so forth and in the year of our Lord Christ one thousand seven hundred and fifty – John Champain – signed sealed published and declared by the above named John Champain as and for his last Will and Testament in the presence of us who as witnesses to the same have in his presence subscribed our names – H. Bosworth – Jos. Dornford – Thomas Higgins.

 

This Will was proved at London the seventh day of April in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and fifty six before the Worshipfull Arthur Collier doctor of Laws Surrogate of the Right Honourable Sir George Lee Knight also doctor of Laws Master Keeper or Commissary of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury lawfully constituted by the Oath of James Champain the son of the deceased and sole Executor named in the said will To whom Administration was granted of all and singular the Goods Chattels and Credits of the said deceased having been first sworn duly to administer. Exd.

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Ann Champain and Richard Collins

My recent posts have explored the life and family of eighteenth-century wine merchant James Champain, who died in 1785. James was the only surviving son of John Champain, also a wine merchant, who died in 1756. John also had a daughter Ann or Anna, and it’s to her story that I return in this post. I’m interested in Ann Champain because she married Richard Collins of Epping, and thus became the sister-in-law of my 5 x great grandmother Elizabeth Gibson, whose first husband was Richard’s brother John Collins. Ann Collins née Champain would have been an aunt to James Champain’s nine children, and her two children would have been their first cousins.

St Peter upon Cornhill (via knowledgeoflondon.com)

St Peter upon Cornhill (via knowledgeoflondon.com)

A record of Ann’s birth or baptism has yet to come to light. The first record we have for Ann is of her marriage to Richard Collins on 15th September 1747 at the church of St Peter upon Cornhill in the City of London. From this, we can probably place her birth some time in the mid 1720s. Like her brother James, Ann was certainly a product of her father John’s first marriage, and her mother (whose identity I have yet to discover) must have died while Ann was still very young. John Champain married again in 1735, to Sarah Stumphousen, and Ann would have grown up alongside her older step-siblings, Adam, Mary and Sarah Stumphousen, as well as her own brother James.

Ann’s brother James Champain married his first wife, Hannah Hawkins, in 1744, three years before his sister’s wedding. I conclude from James’ tax records and other evidence that he and his family probably lived in London, where he carried on his (and his father’s?) wine business. As for Ann, her marriage record describes her as, like her husband Richard, ‘of Epping’. We know that her father maintained a house at Epping Long Green, as well as an address in town, so it could be that Ann spent part of her childhood in each place. If so, then she would have had much in common with the woman who would become her sister-in-law, my ancestor Elizabeth Gibson, whose family also appears to have divided between its time between an address in Tower Hill and their country house at Woodredon, Waltham Abbey, just a few miles from Epping. It’s even possible that Ann and Elizabeth knew each other before their marriages, as neighbours in one of these two locations, though they were probably about ten years apart in age (Ann being the older of the two).

Countryside near Epping, Essex (via annierack.hoofbags.me.uk)

Countryside near Epping, Essex (via annierack.hoofbags.me.uk)

I’ve made reference in earlier posts to the marriage settlement of £1200 conferred ‘in trust for purchase of estate’ made on 14th September 1747 (i.e. the day before the wedding) between Richard Collins of Epping, gent.; John Champain of Tower Street, London, citizen and wine cooper and Philip Martin of Theydon Garnon, gent.; and Ann Champain, daughter of John Champain. Apparently settlements of this kind were a way of securing separate property rights and future income for a bride, at a time when a woman’s legal and financial identity was still subsumed into that of her husband.

If Ann Champain and Elizabeth Gibson knew each other as neighbours, then this must also have been true of the Champain and Collins families. They would have been members of a small circle of gentlemen and yeoman farmers in the Epping area, and a match between Richard, the eldest son of the landowning Richard Collins senior and the only daughter of his neighbour, a wealthy London merchant, must have seemed the most natural thing in the world.

Richard Collins senior (Ann’s father-in-law) died and was buried in February 1748. Since Great Britain did not change over to the Gregorian Calendar until 1752, it’s possible that this date is what we would understand as February 1749. In other words, Richard Collins senior might have died nearly two years after his son’s marriage. The elder Richard had made his will in 1742, leaving a considerable amount of property to his eldest son, including ‘all that my customary messuage or tenement called or known by the name of Turners otherwise Colports otherwise Colworthyes situate and being at or near Lindsey Street in Epping’ and its associated lands, amounting to about 15 acres; and another property in the same area called Hight Holes, together with a property known as Parklands, amounting to a further 15 acres. The only condition is that Richard junior is to pay his younger brother William the sum of 200 pounds, either within a year of their father’s decease or when the latter reaches the age of twenty-one. (Since he was born in 1739, William would not come of age until 1760.)

St George's Chapel, Mayfair in the 18th century

St George’s Chapel, Mayfair in the 18th century

In February 1753, some nine years after the marriage of Richard Collins and Ann Champain, John Collins, who I believe to have been Richard’s younger brother, married my ancestor Elizabeth Gibson at St George’s Chapel in Mayfair. The circumstances of this marriage remain shrouded in mystery. Why did it take place at a church notorious for clandestine marriages? Was this connected in some way with the (possible) imprisonment in the Fleet of John Gibson, Elizabeth’s father, for fraud? And did the secret nature of the marriage affect John’s standing in his family or the nature of his inheritance?

John Champain, father of Ann and James, died in 1756, having made his will six years earlier. I’ll discuss this document in another post, before going on to explore the married life of Richard and Ann Collins.

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Reflections on the will of Captain William Burgundy Champain

What can we learn from the last will and testament of Captain William Burgundy Champain, R.N., who died in 1818? We discover, among other things, that his friends included Lieutenant John Guyon, R.N., who (it turns out) served on the gun vessel Starling in the early 1800s and who was court-martialed and dismissed the service for ‘cruel and un-officer-like behaviour’ towards a seaman in 1815; and Charles Ruxton of Dublin, who was probably a member of the noted Ruxton family of Ardee, County Louth, and a relation of the Irish MP and landowner bearing the same name, who died in 1806. We also gain an insight into the prized personal possessions of a retired naval officer of the early nineteenth century, which included a gold snuff box; a gold watch, worn with gold chain and seals; a chronometer; and an encyclopedia.

However, for my current purposes, the main value of the will is in the information it provides about William Burgundy Champain’s relatives. Since he does not mention any wife or children of his own, we must assume either that William was a confirmed bachelor (the most likely option) or that his wife had died and they had no surviving children. The main beneficiaries of William’s will are his nephews and nieces, and it turns out that all of these are the sons and daughters of his older brother John Champain.

We know from the 1781 will of their father, James Champain senior, that his two elder sons, James junior and John, served in the East Indies. I’ve been unable to discover what became of James junior, but I’m fortunate that the family of his brother John has been researched by Christine Hoey, who has kindly shared her findings with me.

Calcutta in 1786. From an etching by Thomas Daniel. (Via sankalpa.tripod.com)

Calcutta in 1786. From an etching by Thomas Daniel.
(via sankalpa.tripod.com)

From Christine I learn that John Champain was appointed a civil judge in Dacca, India, in 1788, and that in the same year he married Margery Mackintosh in Calcutta. They had nine children between 1789 and 1802, when Margery died, shortly after giving birth to twin boys. Most of these children were born in India, but the twins were born in London in 1802, by which time the family had returned permanently to England. On his return, John Champain lived variously at Great Stanhope Street in Mayfair and at Gloucester Place, New Road.

The children of John and Margery Champain were: Hugh Henry; John; William; Ann; Agnew; Caroline Eliza; Julia Margaret; and the twins Gilbert and Mackenzie. All of these, apart from William, who died in 1809, and the twins, are mentioned in their uncle William Burgundy Champain’s will of 1815. In 1806 John Champain remarried, his second wife being Ann Douglas, widow of Captain Peter Douglas.

Henry Hugh Champain, who was appointed as executor of his uncle’s will, is described as being of the Middle Temple. In fact, having graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1809, Henry studied law at the Middle Temple in 1805 and was called to the Bar in 1813. However, he later took holy orders and served as curate of Winchfield in Hampshire, where he died in 1826. He left a wife named Mary. His younger brother John also trained as a lawyer: there is a record at Ancestry of his articles of clerkship to a William Greaves, dated 1810.

Julia Margaret Champain married Thomas Bateman at St Mary, Marylebone in 1823, and her sister Caroline Eliza Champain married Henry John Bowler at the same church in 1838. According to Christine Hoey, the twins Gilbert and Mackenzie Champain both joined the army and ended up migrating to Australia.

Tipu Sultan (en.wikipedia.org)

Tipu Sultan (en.wikipedia.org)

As for John’s son Agnew Champain, he also followed a military career, rising to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. His destiny seems to have been written in his name: he was probably named after Patrick Alexander Agnew (1765 – 1813) who was the first military governor of Ceylon and later major general of the East India Company. In his will of 1822, John Champain’s bequeaths to his daughter Julia a silver pot ‘which once belonged to Tippoo Sultan and was part of General Agnew’s prize money’. Agnew Champain married Rosaline Sarah Underwood at St Mary, Bryanston Square, in 1830. Among their children was Sir John Underwood Bateman Champain, born in 1835, who also had a distinguished military career; one of his children was a first-class county cricketer who became an Anglican bishop.

John Champain died in 1822 at Gloucester Place and was buried, like his wife Margery and son William, at the church of St Edmund King and Martyr in London.

At this point, I plan to leave the family of James Champain, London wine merchant, and return to his sister Ann, husband of Richard Collins of Epping, and the sister-in-law of my 5 x great grandmother Elizabeth Gibson (1733 – 1809). My exploration of James’ family in recent posts has proved interesting, in providing a broader context for my examination of Elizabeth’s life and times. I’m struck, too, by the parallels between James Champain’s family and that of Elizabeth’s younger brother, Bowes John Gibson (1744 – 1817). The latter was also employed by the East India Company, and he had two sons, George Milsom (1782 – 1814) and John Thomas (1785 – 1851), who served as military officers in India. Like John Champain, he also had a habit of naming his sons after military associates: his son Edmund Affleck Gibson bore the names of a celebrated naval officer and baronet, who was also a witness to Bowes John’s first marriage.

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