The will of John Mortimer of Shelf (died 1742)

Recently I wrote about the Yorkshire origins of my 5 x great grandfather, Joseph Holdsworth, who died in South Weald, Essex, in 1795. In that post, I mentioned the theory that Joseph was the son of John Holdsworth of Sowood House, Coley, near Halifax, who married Mary, daughter of John Mortimer of Shelf, in 1725. (We know from the nineteenth-century researches of James Joseph Holdsworth that either John or Joseph Holdsworth married a ‘Miss Mortimer’, and also that in his will a later John Mortimer left property to his Holdsworth cousins.)

Giles Hill, Shelf, Yorkshire (photo courtesy of right move.co.uk)

This theory is given some support by the will of John Mortimer, of which I’ve now obtained a copy. We know from the parish records that ‘John Mortimer of Shelfe’ was buried at St John’s church, Coley, on 25 June 1742. The will of which I have a copy was signed and sealed on 21 June in that year. Moreover, the will expressly mentions John Mortimer’s Holdsworth grandchildren – including one by the name of Joseph.

I’ll elaborate on what the will can tell us about the Mortimers and the Holdsworths, and the connections between them, in a separate post. For now, here is my transcription of John’s will. I’ve retained the original grammar and spellings, added question marks where I’m not confident of my interpretation, and emboldened some of the key names thus for clarity:

In the name of God Amen. I John Mortimer of Shelf in the County of York Clothier and Wooll Stapler being of Sound mind and memory do make this my last Will and Testament as followeth, Towit, my will and mind is that all my Just Debts and the Charges of my funeral be well and fully paid by my Executor hereafter named Also I give and bequeath unto my Eldest Son Richard Mortimer all that Messuage or Tenement and all the Lands thereto belonging at Giles hill in Shelf aforesd. in the possession of John Brooke And all that Messuage or Tenement and all the Lands thereto belonging in Clayton in the sd. County of York in the possession of Joseph Mann, And all that other Messuage or Tenement and all the Lands thereto belonging in Clayton aforesd. in the possession of Charles Hanson with all the priviledges and Appurtenances to the same belonging, And to her heirs and assigns forever paying to my Daughter Sarah Hobson the Sum of five pounds a year out of that farm in the possession of Charles Hanson for and During the Terme of her Natural Life, Also I give and bequeath to my Son John Mortimer all that Messuage or Tenement and the Lands to the same belonging And all that Cottage with the Appurtenances in Lightcliffe in the sd. County of York in the possession of John Ramsden and Atkinson for and during the Terme of his Natural Life, and after his Decease to his Son Sam Mortimer and to his Heirs and Assigns forever, Also I give and bequeath to my Son William Mortimer all that Cottage or Dwellinghouse with the Appurtenances in Lightcliffe aforesd. in the possession of Widdow Buralsy (?) and to his Heirs and Assigns forever, Also I give and bequeath to my sd. Son William Mortimer the Sum of five Hundred pounds to be paid him out of my personal Estate when he shall attain his Age of Twenty one Years, but if he shall happen to dye before he Attain his Age of Twenty One years, then my will & mind is that the sd. Legacy of five Hundred pounds shall lease (?) and go to my Son Richard Mortimer he paying out of it to my Daughters Martha Mary and Sarah the Sum of fifty pounds apiece within the Space of Six months next after the death of my sd. Son William Mortimer Also I give and bequeath to my Grand Sons John Holdsworth Josiah Holdsworth Richard Holdsworth James Holdsworth and Joseph Holdsworth the Sum of Ten pounds apiece to be paid out of my personal Estate when they shall Attain their respective Ages of twenty one years, and if any of them shall happen to dye before he or they attain that Age then my will and mind is that the Legacy of him or them so dying shall be equally divided amongst the Survivor or Survivors of them, Also I give and bequeath to my Grand Daughter Matty Fletcher the Sum of fifty pounds to be paid out of my personal Estate when she shall Attain her age of Twenty one years and do earnestly desire she may be brought up with my Son Richard Mortimer Also I give and bequeath all the Rest Residue and Remainder of my Estate both Real and personal of what Kind or Nature soever unto my sd. Son Richard Mortimer [sworn] whom I do hereby nominate Constitute and Appoint Sole Executor of this my Last Will and Testament hereby Revoking and making Void all other Wills and Testaments by me made In Witness whereof I hereunto Set my Hand and Seal this Twenty first day of June in the year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Forty two.

Signed Sealed published and Declared by the sd. Testator to be his last Will and Testament in the presence of us (the word respective being first Interlined (?)) who at his Request have Subscribed our Names as Witnesses hereof 

The marke of Jeremiah Smithe

Jonathan Shaw

W Liley [sworn]

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