Ten years in the life of my 5 x great grandmother Elizabeth Gibson: 1753 – 1763

I’ve been revisiting the life of my 5 x great grandmother Elizabeth Gibson, trying to solve some of the mysteries that still surround her story. In the past week or two, I’ve been researching the lives of some of Elizabeth’s immediate relatives in the Collins and Champain families. Now I want to turn the focus on to Elizabeth herself, and in particular a crucial ten-year period in her life, between 1753 and 1763, the period of her first marriage, to John Collins.

I’ve sketched out a timeline of this decade below, in the hope that putting events in chronological order will provide a better sense of how and why things happened. But in order to place this key period in Elizabeth’s life in some kind of context, it’s worth recapping the events of her life before 1753.

St Botolph, Aldgate, from the Minories

St Botolph, Aldgate, from the Minories

Elizabeth’s father John Gibson, who appears to have borne the rank of lieutenant, and who seems to have become a lighterman and coal trader of some wealth, married her mother Mary Greene, daughter of London goldsmith Joseph Greene, in 1729. Born at her grandparents’ house in the Minories and baptised at the parish church of St Botolph, Aldgate, Elizabeth was the third of seven, or possibly nine children, her birth being preceded by those of her two older sisters Jane and Mary. In the next decade or so, she would be joined by three younger sisters – Frances, Ann and Sarah – and a younger brother, Bowes John.

Elizabeth spent her early years in her parents’ London home at Tower Hill. In 1737, when she was four years old, her grandfather Joseph died and in the following year, from the proceeds of his will, her grandmother bought the manor house of Woodredon at Waltham Abbey, for Elizabeth’s parents. We can assume that Elizabeth spent much of her childhood at Woodredon, which was just a few miles from Epping, the home of the Collins family, who owned a number of farms in the area.

Woodredon House, Waltham Abbey, Essex

Woodredon House, Waltham Abbey, Essex

The decisive events of Elizabeth’s childhood, assuming that my speculations are correct, must have been her father John’s declaration of bankruptcy and arrest for fraud against the Crown, followed by his imprisonment in the Fleet and his later appeal to Parliament to clear his name, all of which happened in the early 1740s, when Elizabeth would have been nine or ten years old. We can only guess at the impact on her. Remarkably, the family appears to have been able to hold on to possession of Woodredon, perhaps by assigning its ownership to Elizabeth’s grandmother Mary Greene.

The ten years of Elizabeth’s life covered by the timeline below are bookended by her two marriages: to John Collins in February 1753, and to Joseph Holdsworth, my 5 x great grandfather, in May 1763. But Elizabeth was not the first of the Gibson siblings to marry. On 18th November 1752, four months before Elizabeth’s wedding, her older sister Jane married William Coates at Theydon Mount, near Epping. The parish register describes Jane as being ‘of Woodredon in ye parish of Waltham Holy Cross': in other words, at this date, Woodredon was still very much the Gibson family home, and we can only assume that it was while living there that Elizabeth, by now in her late teens, met John Collins, second son of Epping farmer and landowner Richard Collins, who was just a few months older than her. They were married   when they were both nineteen years of age, and the fact that they married at a church notorious for secret weddings (St George’s, Mayfair) suggests that they may not have had their parents’ consent.

Mayfair Chapel in the 18th century

Mayfair Chapel in the 18th century

The first column in the timeline gives the date of the event and the second column gives Elizabeth’s age at the time, assuming that she was born in May 1733, the month of her baptism.

21st Feb 1753              19       Marriage to John Collins

1754 (?)                      20       Birth of nephew Champain Collins

30th August 1754       21       Marriage of sister Ann to Charles Gottfried Schwartz

12 Jan 1755                21       Baptism of nephew William Coates

1st Feb 1756               22       Baptism of nephew John Coates

4th Apr 1756              22       Burial of John Champain

26th April 1757         23       Baptism of niece Ann Collins

21st Aug 1757            24       Baptism of niece Jane Coates

8th July 1759             26       Baptism of daughter Frances Collins

25th Mar 1760           26       Marriage of sister Mary to William Hunter

22nd Jan 1761            27       Marriage of sister Frances to Michael Bonner

1761                            27       Death of husband’s aunt Elizabeth Collins

17th Jan 1762             28       Birth of nephew John William Bonner

15th Feb 1763             29       Death of father John Gibson

20th May 1763           30       Marriage to Joseph Holdsworth

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The children of Richard and Ann Collins

In the last few posts I’ve been exploring the lives of Richard Collins (died 1770) and his wife Ann Champain. Richard was the older brother of John Collins of Epping, the first husband of my 5 x great grandmother Elizabeth Gibson (1733 – 1809). I’ve come to believe that Elizabeth might have met her second husband, Joseph Holdsworth of South Weald, through her brother-in-law Richard, who lived in the same part of Essex towards the end of his life.

In this post, I’ll be summarising what I’ve managed to discover about the two children of Richard and Ann Collins: their son Champain and daughter Ann.

Passmores House in 1974

Passmores House in 1974

Champain Collins 

Our knowledge of Champain Collins is mostly derived from four records held at the Essex Record Office, the first three dating from 1778, eight years after his father’s death.

There is a document headed ‘Exemplification of common recovery’ dated 8th July 1778, relating to the manor of Passmores in Great Parndon, involving ‘Robert Bunyan v. John Windus’, with Champain Collins and Thomas Francis Martin as ‘vouchees’. Windus was one of the attorneys who witnessed the will of Champain’s father Richard in 1763, and I suspect that Thomas Martin was a relative of the senior attorney, Philip Martin, who was another witness.

The next two documents are both dated 10th July and relate to a mortgage for the ‘Manor of Passmores and capital messuage called Passmores and land (42 acres; field names) in Great Parndon’. The first is headed ‘Mortgage for £1500’ and involves ‘Champain Collins of Passmores in Great Parndon, gent. to Francis Bayley of Great Parndon, gent.’ The second is entitled ‘Assignment of a mortgage for a term of 1,000 years’ and its content is summarised as follows:

(i) Philip Martin of Theydon Garnon, gent.; (ii) William Lake of Epping, yeoman and wife Ann, formerly Ann Collins, daughter of Richard Collins and wife Ann; (iii) Champain Collins of Passmores in Great Parndon, son and heir of Richard Collins; (iv) Francis Bayley of Great Parndon, gent.; (v) John Gentery of Netteswell, tanner

As noted above, Philip Martin was a lawyer who witnessed the will of Champain’s father Richard; he was also one of the executors of the will of Richard Collins senior, Champain’s grandfather. These documents all relate to the purchase of Passmores by Francis Bayley whose family, we learn from another source, was still living there in the middle of the nineteenth century. The same source confirms that the manor of Passmores was owned from 1775 by ‘Mr Collins’: presumably this was Champain, and it suggests that this was the year in which he came of age and thus into his inheritance, which would mean that he was born in about 1754. In the next sentence we read that ‘Mrs Collins of Epping held the manor c. 1771’. This must be Champain’s widowed mother Ann, and it confirms both that she moved back to Epping from Shenfield after her husband Richard’s death in 1770, and that Passmores was part of her inheritance, held in trust for her son when he came of age.

A fourth document, dated 1812-14, is a useful source of information about Champain Collins’ later years. Headed ‘Feoffment and conveyance with related papers’, its scope and contents are summarised as follows:

1.Thomas Coxhead Marsh, esq of Wapping, Middlesex

2.Champain Collins, of North Weald Bassett, schoolmaster

Consideration: £1 1s

Property: piece of ground late part of the waste of the manor of Gaines Park Hall, Theydon Garnon

Rent: 9s p.a. to the lord of the manor

with related correspondence 1812-1814 including licence to Champain Collins to enclose the waste, 1812, a draft feoffment and conveyance between Thomas Coxhead Marsh of Wapping esq and William Lake, farmer, parish not given, for the same piece of ground but now with 2 tenements erected on it, for the same consideration of £1 1s and rent of 9s, 1814

The transaction described is of no great interest in itself, except in demonstrating that Champain Collins continued to have an interest in property in the Epping area. It greater usefulness is in confirming, firstly, that Champain was still alive in 1812-1814, when he would have been about sixty years old; that by this time he was living in North Weald Bassett; and that he was employed as a schoolmaster. We know that Elizabeth Collins, the maiden aunt of Champain’s father Richard, who died in 1761, had left property in this village, which was about three miles from Epping, to Richard’s younger brother William Collins. Perhaps this was inherited in turn by Champain?

Londonstbennetpaulswharf

Ann Collins

The sources quoted above are also our main source for information about the marriage of Champain Collins’ sister Ann. From one of the mortgage documents for Passmores we learn that, by 1778, she was married to William Lake, a yeoman of Epping.

On 10th November 1777 William Lake and Ann Collins, both said to be of the parish, were married at the church of St Benet Paul’s Wharf in the City of London. Ann’s cousin, Sarah Small, had married John Franklin at the same church in 1734. The witnesses were John Lake and George Markham. Apart from the two references in the documents quoted above, this is the only information I’ve been able to find concerning William and Ann Lake. If the William Lake, farmer, mentioned in the 1814 document about Champain Collins is the person who married Ann Collins, then we know that he too was still alive at this date.

So far, I’ve been unable to discover whether Champain or Ann Collins had any children, nor have I yet found a will for either of them, or for Ann’s husband William Lake.

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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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