Gabriel Fowle of Southover, Lewes, in Sussex, who died in 1555, was my 13 x great grandfather. His only son Magnus Fowle of Mayfield (died 1595) married Alice Lucke, and their only daughter Agnes Fowle married Edward Byne of Burwash. Edward and Agnes Byne’s son Stephen married Mary Manser of Wadhurst and their son Magnus Byne (1615- 1671), rector of Clayton-cum-Keymer, was my 9 x great grandfather. Magnus Byne’s son John (1651 – 1689) moved to London where he worked as a stationer: his daughter Mary married goldsmith Joseph Greene (1677 – 1737), and they were my 7 x great grandparents.

I’ve written briefly before about Gabriel Fowle, but most of my information has been secondhand and I’ve been hampered by not having direct access to his will. However, I’ve now acquired a copy from the East Sussex Record Office and have made a first attempt at transcribing it. I found the will’s sixteenth-century script difficult to decipher, and its frequent use of abbreviations only made things worse. So the transcript that follows includes a number of omissions (represented by questions marks – ??) and guesses (followed by a question mark in brackets), some of which will probably turn out to be inaccurate. Nevertheless, the main outline is more or less clear, and in another post I’ll analyse what the will can tell us about Gabriel, his family and his associates.

In the Name of god amen the 27th day of January a[nn]o die 1554 I Gabryell Fowlle off the p[ar]yshe of Southover near Lewes in the countye of Sussex within the dio[cese] of chychystre. hole of mynde & of good remembrance thanks be to god do orday[n] & make this my Testament & Last wyll in man[ne]r & forme followynge. Fyrst I bequeath my soule to Allmyghtie god and my bodye to be buryed within the churchyard of the p[ar]yshe of Southover aforesaid Item I gyve to the high altare of Ryngmer xxd. Item I wyll x preistes yf they can be gott to celebrate & say masse for my soulle & all crysten soules, & to be honestly recompensed by my executor. It[em] I give my new graylle [?] Imprynted [?] to the churche of Ryngmer. Item I give my written masse book to the church of Southover. I gyve John Harman my sonne in law my best gown & my best jacket. Item I do gyve to Jane Bryan my old servant (?) that my house & garden called pakette in Southover, For terme of her lyff, & after her decease to remayne to my daughter Agnes Harman, & to her heires of her bodye lawfully begotten. Item I gyve to Agnes Harman my daughter that my peece of grounde called Fenner (?) garden lying in the p[ar]yshe of Glynd together with one acre in the gares (?) in Glynde also, to her use for terme of her lyff, & after her death to remayne to Magnus Fowlle my sonne and to his heires of his bodye Lawfully begotten. I wyll my executor to bestowe at my buryall in monye amonge the poutrye (?) of Ringmer, Lewes & Southover by advyse of my overseers xs. And as maye (?) at my monethse mynd. Item I wyll all my Lands & Ten[amen]ts lyenge & beyng in Southover otherwise than granted to Jane Bryan as ys aforesaid, to John Harman and Agnes hys wyff & to the heires of thayr bodyes lawfully begotten, Provyded & allwayes excepted that the same John shall not clayme any further sumes of monye nor monye withe (?) whiche I promysed (?) hym  for the maryage of my daughter. So that yf the sayd John chance (?) to clayme any further sumes off monye as afore ys sayd, Then my exec[utor] to pay to the same John xx ??  in redye monye & then my sayd exec[utor] to enter to pay (?) all the sayd Lands in these (?) forme as ys aforesaid. Item I wyll my daughter Agnes to have my jewells of sylver that ys a ???  and a bande of sylver and gylte ?? of my silver spoones, her mothers best harness (?) gyrdle, a payr of corall bedes gawdyd (?) with sylver. Item I wyll all my moveable goods, unbequeathed sav??d books to be equally devyded between my daughter Agnes and my exec[utor] ; with advyse of my overseers & Edward Brown. Item I wyll that Jane Bryan my servant (?) have one of my hostes (?) at Ryngmer, with locke and key & a payr of potts (?). Item I wyll all my Lands in Ryngmer & Glynde otherwise than ys above specyfyed to Magnus Fowlle my sonne & to his heires of his bodye Lawfully begotten together with all suche tytle & ryght whiche I have or ryght to have, or by any meanes in tyme to come may have, concerning my right and tytle in Sussex or in Kent, And if yt shall chance my sayd sonne Magnus the wh??t  heires of his bodye Lawfully begotten, Then I wyll all my sayd lands & Ten[amen]ts ???? & ???? to ??? bothe within Kent & Sussex to remayne soly to my daughter Agnes & to her heires of her bodye Lawfully begotten, & yf she fortune (?) to the wh??t heires of her Bodye Lawfully begotten. Then I wyll all my sayd Lands & ren???s to be sold by my overseers, & the summes of monye to be bestowed by my overseers upon almost ????,  ??? wayrs & these (?) other deads & worts(?) of ???? and specyally toward the separacion (?) of the church of Ryngmer. Item I make my sonne Magnus Fowlle, my sole executor. And Dunstane Sawyer now vicar of Ryngmer & Nycholas Aptoff of Ryngmer grene overseers & the same Dunstane to have for hys labor my second best gown, & the same Nycholas to have an angell or ?? of monye. Item I wyll that my overseers shall have full & perfect authoryty to take advyse of Lerned counsel, & to alter & change or otherwyse sett any clause or sentence which might be or ought to be more formally made in any ??? toward the performance of thys my Last wyll, So yt allways be & shalbe toward the strengthynge of the ryghts of my children. as my wyll ys. Item I gyve to all my godchyldren xyd apece. So yt be asked. Item I gyve to John Harman my daughters sonne, a cowe (?), & to Elizabeth Harman my daughters daughter a sylver spone (?). Item I wyll to be gyven amonge the se??lers of the fyve se??le namely so?? as to pray for me. Item I wyll to John Colmott (?) the young[er], Andrewe Bara(t?), Edward Pelham John Raynolds & John Feharbar (Fitzherbert?] for theyr dylygence about me ?? amonge ???, equally to be decyded  & att theyse so to take advantage of theyr peny apece, yf ther be landes el ???less beside them. Item I give to Thomas Brown  xxd. Provided allway yf yt shall fortune my sayd oversere to fayle at suche tyme as my land to be sold for lacke of heires of my children as ys aforesaid, That ??? I wyll that the churchwardens with advyse of the other honest men of the p[ar]yshe to sell my sayd Lande & to bestowe the monye thereof accordynge to the forme of this my last wyll, as my sayd oversers should have done. Item I wyll a copye of my wyll to remayne in p???? in the churche of Ryngmer, or some other safe keepyinge for the same entent (?) Item I wyll that yf yt shall fortune my oversesr to take any payne in rydynge or goynge to se this my wyll fulfylld, they to be honestly recompensed by my exec[utor]. Item I wyll that my overseers shall see this my wyll psyd & registered. To all this witnesses I Andrewe Puggeslye.  Wyllm Marle, James West, John Fortune, & John Rivet (?), with other. Cma. Jny. ??? egibit Gloria de Marsfeld 17 die augusti a[nn]o die 1555 ?? ?? ad ?????