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

Thames Street, London, looking towards All Hallows church (via

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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

St Peter upon Cornhill (via

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

Countryside near Epping, Essex (via

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.

Posted in Champain, Collins, Gibson | Leave a comment

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

Calcutta in 1786. From an etching by Thomas Daniel.

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 (

Tipu Sultan (

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.

Posted in Champain, Collins, Gibson, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The last will and testament of Captain William Burgundy Champain

Marine chronometer by Thomas Earnshaw (via

Marine chronometer by Thomas Earnshaw (via

Early 19th century gold pocket watch by Grimalde and Johnson (via www., with thanks to Christine Hoey)

Early 19th century gold pocket watch by Grimalde and Johnson (via www., with thanks to Christine Hoey)

I’m grateful to Christine Hoey for giving me permission to share her transcription of the last will and testament of Captain William Burgundy Champain, about whom I wrote in the previous post. The main reason for posting the will in full is that it provides valuable information about the wider Champain family. I’ll discuss what we can learn from William’s will in another post.

Abraham Rees' Encyclopaedia

Abraham Rees’ Encyclopaedia

 This is the last Will and testament of me William Burgundy Champain a post captain in the Royal Navy I bequeath my plate Linen china household furniture wearing apparel my Encyclopaedia by Rees and others and my Chronometer by Earnshaw unto my nephew Henry Hugh Champain of the Middle Temple Esq one of the Ex[ecut]ors hereinafter mentioned I bequeath my Gold Watch by Grimaldi and Johnson and the Gold Chain and seals which I wear with the same and all the rest of my Books and pamphlets unto my Nephew John Champain of the Middle Temple aforesaid and I bequeath my Gold Snuff Box to my Nephew Agnew Champain and I bequeath all the Rest and Residue of my personal estate and effects unto the said Henry Hugh Champain and his Ex[ecut]ors Ex[ecut]ors Adm[inistrat]ors and assigns upon trust thereout to pay my just Debts and to invest the Residue thereof at interest upon Government or real securities in their names and to vary and transfer such securities when and as they shall think fit and I declare that the said Henry Hugh Champain his Ex[ecut]ors Adm[inistrat]ors and assigns shall stand possessed of the said trust securities upon trust to pay the interest and dividends unto my Sister Mrs Ann Horabin for her life for her own use and benefit and after her decease to stand possessed of the said trust funds upon trust for my three nieces Ann Champain Julia Margaret Champain & Caroline Eliza Champain equally share and share alike as tenants in Common the said shares to be for the separate use of my said three nieces and not subject to the Debts or Control of any persons with whom they may respectively intermarry and I appoint the said Henry Hugh Champain Ex[ecut]or of this my will and hereby revoke all my former wills In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this eighth day of April 1815 at Bath Somerset Wm B Champain (S) signed published and declared by the said testator William Burgundy Champain as and for his last will and testament in our presences who at his request have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses Chas. Ruxton of Dublin John Guyon Lieut. Royal Navy of Bath Co Of Somersetshire.

Proved at London the 29th August 1818 before the worshipful Sherrard Beaumont Burnaby Doctor of Laws & solicitor by the Oath of Henry Hugh Champain Esquire the Nephew and the Sole Ex[ecut]or to whom admon was granted having both first sworn to admin[iniste]r.

Posted in Champain, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

William Burgundy Champain (1759 – 1818)

James Champain, the 18th century wine merchant whose life and times I’ve been exploring in recent posts, had nine children by his first wife Hannah Hawkins, of whom eight seem to have survived. I’ve mentioned the marriages of three of James’ daughters – Elizabeth, Sally and Frances – in previous posts. They married William Edwards, William Walker and Joseph Fletcher respectively. I’ve also discovered that another daughter, Ann, married William Horabin in Exeter in 1782. As for James and Hannah Champain’s four sons, we know that the elder two, James junior and John, were both ‘in the East Indies’ when James senior made his will in 1781. The youngest son, George Hawkins Champain, was not yet of age at this date: I’ve yet to find any other references to him.

A midshipman or apprentice naval officer (Thomas Rowlandson, c. 1799, via

A midshipman or apprentice naval officer (Thomas Rowlandson, c. 1799, via

As for James’ third son, William Burgundy Champain, who was born in Edmonton in 1759, we know that he was already a lieutenant in ‘His Majesty’s Navy’ when his father made his will, and had been promoted to captain by the time his stepmother Ann Champain made her will in 1802. A number of records relating to William Champain can be accessed online, making it possible to construct an outline of his naval career.

Naval records in the National Archives chart Willaim Champain’s rise through the ranks. For example, he was an 8th Lieutenant in 1780, a 4th Lieutenant in 1782 and a 2nd Lieutenant in 1787. 

A ship of the East India Company at Blackwall

A ship of the East India Company at Blackwall

A register of ships employed in the service of the East India Company in the year 1785-6 notes that William Champain served on the Chapman which sailed to China under Captain John Fox. This suggests that, like his two older brothers, William spent at least part of his career supporting Britain’s expanding trade empire in the Far East. 

However, the conflicts between Britain and France sparked by the French Revolution of 1789 seem to have diverted William Champain’s naval career in the direction of the Americas. There is an account in William James’ Naval History of Great Britain of an attack in December 1798 on French positions on the Caribbean island of Margarita by troops from HMS Zephyr, commanded by Captain William Champain.

Apparently William was promoted to the rank of ‘post captain’ on 1st January 1801 (a post captain was a captain by rank, but without command of a ship). The National Archives seems to have a considerable amount of correspondence by William Champain, in its collection of Captains’ Letters from the early 1800s.

On 28th December 1804, William Champain, Captain R.N., wrote a letter, sent from his ship HMS Jason, then at Woolwich, to Colonel Thomas Picton, regarding the enquiry by Colonel William Fullarton into the colonial administration on the island of Trinidad during Picton’s time in office there. William Champain expresses ‘indignation’ at ‘the very malignant aspersions with which that gentleman [i.e. Fullarton] has thought proper to stigmatise the conduct of the naval officers during that period’. Champain claims that ‘every atom’ of what Fullarton has asserted regarding the navy is ‘perfectly false’. He refers to his own service at the time ‘on the Spanish main’ and rejects Fullarton’s claims that he and his fellow naval officers were involved in ‘predatory excursons…for private purposes’.

Apparently the Jason was launched at Woolwich in the same year, under the command of Captain William Champain, and served in the Leeward Islands as the flagship of Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane. William James’ naval history describes the capture on 13th October 1805, of the French ship the Naiade, by the Jason, under William Champain’s command (also mentioned here). 

HMS Jason capturing French frigate La Seine, 1798

HMS Jason capturing French frigate La Seine, 1798

Command of the Jason passed to another officer in 1806. According to one source, William Champain then commanded the Amelia, also in the Leeward Islands, from 1806 to 1807. 

William, who seems to have remained a bachelor, made his will in 1815, when he was 56 years old. By this time he seems to have retired to the city of Bath. However, I’m grateful to my fellow researcher Christine Hoey for pointing out that William actually died at Hythe, Kent, on 15th August 1818. I’ll share a transcript of his will in the next post.

Posted in Champain | Leave a comment

Reflections on the will of Ann Champain (died 1804)

Yesterday I shared my transcription of the last will and testament of Ann Champain of Abingdon, the second wife of London wine cooper James Champain. I noted that this document is a useful source of information about the Champain family, and in this post I want to summarise what it can tell us about them.

The first thing we learn is that, some time after the death of her husband James Champain in 1785, his widow Ann must have moved back to her home town of Abingdon. The will is also one of our main sources of information about Ann’s own family, providing us with the name of her brother George Hawkins and his wife Mary (thereby offering confirmation of Ann’s maiden name), and making reference to her daughter Sarah and the latter’s husband James Rose Clealand, whom I wrote about in an earlier post.

Parish church of St George, Bloomsbury (via

Parish church of St George, Bloomsbury (via

Ann Champain’s will also provides us indirectly with details about the marriages of two of her late husband’s daughters. Ann mentions Mrs Sally Walker, wife of William Walker Esquire, to whom she leaves ‘my Garnett Bracelets with the pictures thereto one is her father my late husband the other that of my daughter Mrs Clealand I also give the Mourning Ring I had for her Mother Mrs Hannah Champain also my diamond pin set round with pearls’. In other words, Sally was James’ daughter by his first wife Hannah Hawkins. Born in 1761, I’ve discovered that she married her husband William Walker, a bachelor of the Inner Temple, at the church of St George, Bloomsbury, in May 1801. One of the witnesses was her brother, W.B. (i.e. William Burgundy) Champain.

The will also mentions Frances Fletcher, wife of Joseph Fletcher Esquire, to whom Ann Champain bequeaths ‘my Snuff Box which was her Mothers’ – i.e. it originally belonged to James Champain’s first wife Hannah. Born in 1765, Frances Champain married Joseph Fletcher in London in May 1790.

Sadly, Ann Champain had to add a codicil to her will a year after writing it, since Sally Walker née Champain had died in the interim. She was buried at the church of St Mary, Harrow on 5th May 1803 (which a few years later would be the burial place of Lord Byron’s lover Claire Claremont and their daughter Allegra), just two years after her wedding. Perhaps, like so many women at this period, she died in childbirth. Ann Champain redistributes the items originally bequeathed to Sally to her sister Frances Fletcher and to her brother, William Burgundy Champain, who was already due to receive a number of items of silverware that had belonged to his father.

A View of Harrow, with St Mary's Church and the Old Schools Building and Yard, 1813

A View of Harrow, with St Mary’s Church and the Old Schools Building and Yard, 1813

In the two decades or so since his father’s death, William Burgundy Champain had been promoted from Lieutenant to Captain in the Royal Navy. I’ll have more to say about him in another post.

Posted in Champain | Leave a comment

Champain and Hawkins: monuments in St Helen’s church, Abingdon

I’m grateful to my fellow researcher Christine Hoey for sending me the link to a document describing the monument to Ann Champain in St Helen’s church, Abingdon. Apparently the memorial, dated 1804, for which Ann left instructions in her will (see the previous post) was (according to this writer anyway) ‘a lamentable figure of Hope on a Greek stela; an early and poor work by Sir Richard Westmacott, who could do far better even in his youth.’

Richard Westmacott (via Creative Commons,

Richard Westmacott (via Creative Commons,

As Christine notes, the same document also mentions a memorial, dated 1780, in the same church, to an Elizabeth Hawkins. The writer is rather more appreciative of this monument, sculpted by John Hickey of London, which she describes as ‘the large and best work by a sculptor much admired by [Edmund] Burke of whom he did the only known busts’. She concludes that the memorial to Elizabeth Hawkins is ‘of its kind…one of the finest monuments in England’.

Monument to Elizabeth Hawkins in St Helen's church, Abingdon (via

Monument to Elizabeth Hawkins in St Helen’s church, Abingdon (via

Christine wonders whether Elizabeth Hawkins had any connection with either of the two wives of James Champain, both of whom had the maiden name Hawkins and both of whom were from Abingdon. I’ve found Elizabeth’s will, made in 1780, which gives instructions for her monument in St Helen’s church. In the course of a long will, she also leaves an annuity of five pounds to Ann Champain, daughter of Mr James Champain of Weymouth, Dorset, strongly suggesting a link with his family. Reference is also made in the will to William Hawkins Esquire and his ‘reputed’ and ‘natural’ children by his housekeeper, Elizabeth Blake. In an earlier post, I speculated that William Hawkins might also have been the father of James Champain’s first wife Hannah.

Posted in Champain, Collins | 4 Comments