I’ve had a copy of the will of my ancestor Christopher Maunser, who died in 1545, in my possession for some time, but I’ve held back from transcribing it, mainly because of the difficulty of deciphering its sixteenth-century script. However, inspired by my recent success in decoding the 1554 will of Gabriel Fowle, and by my new interest in my Tudor forebears, I’ve finally managed to produce a reasonably complete version of Christopher’s testament. 

Wadhurst Park, site of Hightown (via morgenguard.com)

Wadhurst Park, site of Hightown (via morgenguard.com)

Christopher Maunser or Manser of Hightown in Wadhurst, Sussex, was the son of Walter Maunser, who was known to be alive during the reign of Henry VII, and he in turn was the son of Robert Maunser, who lived during the reign of (and some sources claim was knighted by) Richard III. Christopher’s son Robert, who is the main beneficiary of his father’s will, had three sons. One of these sons, John Manser of Wadhurst, was the father of Mary Manser who married Stephen Byne of Burwash: they were my 10 x great grandparents. This means that Christopher Maunser was my 13 x great grandfather.

In this post I’m sharing my transcription of Christopher’s will and in the next post I’ll discuss what it can tell us about him and his family. As with other wills, I’ve retained the original spelling and used question marks to indicate illegible or uncertain words.

In the name of God amen the yere of our lorde god a thousand five hundred forty and fyve the xxvth day of September I Chr[ist]opher Maunser of the paryshe of Wadhurst of a hole mynde and good memory make my wyll and testament as foloweth First I bequeathe my soul to allmyghtie god to our lady Saint Mary and to all the company of heven and my body to be buryed within the church yard of Wadhurst aforesayd. Item I will that Joane my wif shall have my tenement called Wenborn during her liff time Item I will oute (?) of  my tenement called heighton where I dwell and oute (all?) of Fysey (?) and grigories xlv by yere during her liff. Item I will that Joan my wif shall have my best (?) chamber if this whych wyth fyir (?) and f????  for going and comying for hir self and her mayde and with and and d??? for her and her mayde during my wiffe liff wythout any interruption or denyall. Item I will to Joane my wif two ???? to be kept upon the landes of heighton at her pleasure during her lif. Item I will that Joan my wif shall have my best bed withal manner of thynge to the bedd belonging. Item I will that Joan my wif shall have haulf my lynen stuff within my house. Item I will that she shall have the occupying of all manner of implimints and brasse pich??? With all other such things belonging to the house. So that she give yt to my sonne Roberts use and not to occupy it oute of my sayd house. Item I will to Thomas Manser sonne of Thomas Manser xld, Item I will to Elizabeth Par??? xid. Item I will to Edward Bradford ?? two y????  heifers (?). Item I will to Chamberlyn xid. Item I will to Elizabeth my daughter xli of lawfull mony of England to be payd to her or to John Thorpp wythin one year after my decease. Item I will to Maryan my daughter xli to be payd, wythyn two years after my decease. Item I will to Myldrede my daughter xli which I promised to Robert Wenborn when he maryed her to be payd wythyn one month after my decease. The residue of all my goodes unbequeathed I will and give to Robert my sonne whom I ordain and make my executor of this my last will and testament. Item I will that Robert my sonne shall have all my landes and tent(ament)s both free and ???? within the shire of Sussex to him and to his heires of his body lawfully bigoted, And for lack (?) of such ??? the sayd landes and tent(ament)s to remain to all my daughters indifferently to be shared amonge them. Item I will that Mr George Darrell (?) shalbe overseer of this my last will and he to have for his paynes xxd & xid witness ???? Thomas Hoth (?) preste William Barham Lawrence Clifton Drury (?) Parker.