"Marry him and I'll cut you off with a shilling!"

Jill Wilson

Did this really ever happen?  It might have done once in Chipping Campden.

CCHS members who are transcribing and studying old wills were stunned by some of the provisions in the will of Sarah Curtis who probably died in early 1717.  The will was signed in May 1716.  It appears that her family did not get on and one daughter had her own ideas on who she should marry.

Sarah specified how her goods and property should be divided amongst her two sons and three daughters. She had already settled some land upon Thomas, the elder son, and now she gave another piece of land in Westington with all her animals, corn, hay and so on to be shared by both her sons. Her house in Westington was to go to both sons too – but if they did not want to live there together, then a fair rent was to be calculated. The one who lived there was to give the other one half of the agreed rent. The elder was to have first refusal.

Did Sarah fear that her sons didn’t get on and was she trying to encourage them to put aside their differences?

Except for certain items that were to remain with the house, all her other goods were to be divided between John, her younger son and her three daughters. Then she came to her money. Two daughters, Elizabeth and Martha were to have £40 each, with no conditions attached.

However her daughter Susanna was only to get her £40 provided that she did not marry a certain John Hambage.  If she did she would receive a bequest of just one shilling! What happened? As yet we are uncertain. Was this the same Susanna Curtis who married a William Robbins of Cropthorne in 1724? Was John Hambage the same as the husbandman of Ebrington mentioned in Rushen’s History? If so he seems likely to have been the man involved in later years in several leases and land deals with one Edmund Pembrage – who incidentally appears to have been one of the witnesses of Sarah’s will. So many of the wills that have been transcribed seem to have complex human stories at their heart and this one in particular makes one wish for a time machine!

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