And I doe desire my very Loveing friends Josias Westwood of wapping in the parish of Whitechappell Chirurgeon and Thomas Sumerly of St Pauls Shadwell Scrivener to be the overseers of this my will And to be Assistants to my Executrix to se the same performed as I have Willed
Who were these two men?
Josias or Josiah Westwood was, as John Elliott’s will indicates, a chirurgeon – or barber-surgeon. I’ve only found two references to him in the parish registers. On 8th May 1650, Josias Westwood, a chirurgeon of Christchurch, London, married Elizabeth Whittiffe (?) of Great St Bartholomew’s, at St Dunstan’s, Stepney. In the following January, the couple had a son, also named Josiah, christened at St Botolph’s, Aldgate: at the time, they were living in East Smithfield. They were at the same address when this child was buried, at the same church, on 7th July 1652.
Despite the paucity of records for him, Josias Westwood has the distinction of being quoted by the famous astrologer, John Gadbury, in his pamphlet about the plague years of the 1660s (apparently a source for Daniel Defoe). Gadbury notes that he himself was ‘visited’ with plague at Christmas 1664, but that his friend and surgeon Josias Westwood saved him. Westwood told him ‘that many of his patients were afflicted with the same Distemper, and yet obtained a Cure against it, the Air being then so friendly to nature, and an enemy unto the Pestilence’. Apparently this was a reference to the severe frost of that winter.
Thomas Sumerly is a name that we’ve come across before. It was he who submitted the ‘allegation’ for the marriage between Elizabeth Elliott and William Greene. In fact, as a scrivener, his name appears on numerous marriage allegations and similar legal documents in the archives.
Thomas Sumerly was almost certainly the person of that name whose daughter Jane was christened at St Dunstan’s church, Stepney, on 30th December, 1659. The parish register describes him as a scrivener living in Foxes Lane, which ran between Ratcliffe Highway and Wapping Wall. His wife’s name was Mary: some sources claim that her maiden name was Soane and that the couple were married at St James, Dukes Place, in April, 1656. On 17th August 1673 Anne, daughter of Thomas and Mary Sumerly, was christened at the same church, though some sources suggest she might have been born some years earlier. The family was now said to be living in Upper Shadwell. Thomas Sumerly’s will, written in 1685, also mentions a son named John, but I’ve yet to find a christening record for him.
On 8th October 1678, Thomas Sumerly’s daughter Jane married Samuel Hendry at St Paul’s, Shadwell. The parish register describes Samuel as a citizen and stationer of London, though like Jane, he is also ‘of this parish’. Samuel and Jane Hendry had at least three children. A son named Marmaduke was christened at St Paul’s on 6th October 1684: at this time the family was living at Wapping Wall. Their daughter Sarah was baptised at the same church on 21st August 1692, the register now describing Samuel as a tobacconist. A son named John was christened on 6th February 1690, and this record also gives Samuel’s occupation as tobacconist. On 2nd July 1706, John was apprenticed to John Rogers, citizen and joiner. The apprenticeship certificate gives the occupation of John’s father Samuel as parish clerk of St Paul’s, Shadwell, and indeed his name appears on other legal documents, such as marriage allegations, from the 1690s.
Thomas Sumerly ‘of Upper Shadwell scrivener’ was buried at St Paul’s, Shadwell, on 17th February 1690 (or 1691, depending on which calendar one is using). According to some sources, his widow Mary died eight years later. The same sources claim that John and Anne Sumerly both emigrated to Dorchester County in colonial Maryland, where Ann married Edward Billiter.