Dear cousins all,
Here is another will which is only tangential to the Steer family, the
Fortescues being related through at least two marriages to the Stures of
North Huish, especially Edmund Sture, the famous lawyer and recorder of
Exeter. Which reminds me that Edmund's coat of arms includes, as its main
feature, a mullet.........no, not a fish rampant, but rather a five pointed
star, such as you find in the arms of the de Vere Earls of Oxford of the
same period [16th century]. The De Vere "molette" or mullet was acquired
during a crusade and was disastrously confused at the Battle of St Albans in
the wars of the Roses with the rising sun emblem of Edward IV. Could it
be that Edmund's mullet or star is another indication of the pronunciation
of the surname ? That would tie in nicely with the verses beginning 'Star
on high', which were quoted ages ago in our mutual correspondence. Just
yet another thought.
The will of Richard Fortescue is the first I've come across which has to do
with a genuine Merchant Venturer, and I wonder if his ship eventually came
home. Certainly he keeps his money and possessions neatly in the family,
but references to Spriddlestone, Fallapit, Staverton and Wood are of
With best wishes to all for Christmas and the New Year.
Philip Steer XVIII !!!
In the Name of God. Amen.
The third day of March Anno Domini 1578, I Richard Fortescue, gentleman,
being in good health and perfect memory [praised be the Almighty God] Whom I
acknowledge and affirm to be the only health of those that are living and
the everlasting life of such as die in Him by faith, do make and ordain this
my last will and testament in form following.
First and chiefly I do commend my soul unto the mercy of the everlasting
God, my only creator and Redeemer, by Whom I hope to be saved amongst the
rest of His church. My body I yield to the Christian grave, where it shall
please God to call me.
Secondly I give to the poor people of the parish of Brixton forty shillings
to be paid within one year next after my decease. Also to the poor of the
parish of Saint Andrew¹s in Holborn, in or near London, likewise forty
shillings to be paid in like manner.
Item, I give and also grant to Elizabeth and Barbara, the daughters of my
brother, John Fortescue, the lease and all my term of years of and in my
tenement and house in Holborn aforesaid and also my furniture of the same
house and all other my goods, which I have left therein.
Item, I give and also grant unto John Fortescue, my brother Robert
Fortescue¹s eldest son, all those messuages, lands, tenements and
hereditaments with the appurtenances, called Saltram in the parish of
Plympton Saint Mary, which I lately had of the demise and grant of my father
for term of certain years and are now in the tenure and occupation of John
Mayo the elder : to have and to hold the same messuages, lands, tenements
and hereditaments unto the said John Fortescue for and during the term of
three score years fully to be complete and ended, if the said John
Fortescue, my said brother¹s son, do happen so long to live : the said term
of three score years to begin next and immediately after the death,
surrender or forfeiture or other determination or end of the estate and term
of the foresaid John Mayo and not before. And, if it fortune the said John,
my said brother¹s son, to die before he accomplish or attain unto the age of
twenty and one years, then I do will and also grant the foresaid messuages,
lands, tenements and hereditaments unto the second son of my said brother,
Robert Fortescue, to have and to hold the same unto the said second son for
and during the term of three score years, if the said second son happen so
long to live, the same term to begin next and immediately after the death,
surrender, forfeiture or other ending of the estate and term of the foresaid
John Mayo of and in the same.
And, whereas I have appointed my especial and very good friend George Cary,
Esquire, to receive to me and to my use of Mr John Hele of Plymouth and
Richard Drake, Esquire, the sum of one hundred, four score, three pounds,
six shillings, eight pence : my will and mind is thus and also I give fifty
pounds thereof unto my said brother Robert Fortescue¹s second son to be paid
and delivered unto him at his age of twenty one years.
Also I give and bequeath of the foresaid sum of one hundred, four score,
three pounds, six shillings, eight pence unto the daughter of the said
Robert Fortescue fifty pounds at her age of twenty one years and not before.
Also I will and do give unto my said brother Robert Fortescue the sum of
twenty pounds to be paid unto him out of the said sum of one hundred, four
score, three pounds, six shillings, eight pence within one year after my
Item, I do will and bequeath unto John Colle, the son of my brother-in-law,
John Colle, the sum of twenty pounds to be paid out of the said sum of one
hundred, four score, three pounds, six shillings, eight pence at his age of
twenty one years.
Item, I give and will unto Margaret Colle, my sister, ten pounds to paid
within one year next after my death.
Item, I give and will unto the foresaid Elizabeth and Barbara, my eldest
brother¹s daughters, thirty three pounds, six shilling, eight pence, [the]
residue of the foresaid one hundred, four score, three pounds, six
shillings, eight pence to be paid unto them at their several ages of twenty
And my will and meaning is that the foresaid, several legacies, devised and
given unto the foresaid second son of my brother Robert and to his said
daughter and also the said legacies devised unto the said John Colle and the
said sum of money devised unto the said Elizabeth and Barbara shall remain
in the hands and custody of the said Mr George Cary until their said several
times of age before limited, if it shall please the said Mr George Cary,
within one year next after my decease to give sufficient bond and assurance
unto my overseers hereafter named for the answering and satisfaction thereof
at the several times of age aforesaid, and also to yield and contribute some
reasonable portion of money yearly for the maintenance and finding [funding
?] of the said second son and daughter of my said brother Robert and also of
the said John Colle, Elizabeth and Barbara in such sort as shall be thought
reasonable by my overseers hereafter named or the most part of them.
And, if it shall not please the said George Cary so to do, then my will is
that the said portions to them limited shall be delivered into the custody
of my said overseers to be employed by them and by their discretions towards
the finding/funding of the said legacies until their several times limited
to be paid thereof.
And, whereas I have now in the adventure with my to the seas of mine own
goods to the value of ............ [blank space in the text] my will and
meaning is that, if it shall please God that the same or any part thereof do
return, that the six[th?] part thereof or of as much as shall return of the
same, shall be delivered and yielded unto my father and mother, unto which I
give the same sixt[h?] part. And, if it shall please God to call away my
said father and mother before the return of my said adventure, then I will
that the same sixt part shall be paid and delivered unto such as it shall
please my said father and mother to dispose or appoint the same unto.
Item, I do give unto John Fortescue, my brother, one other sixt part of my
Item, I do give also unto Robert Fortescue, my brother, one other sixt part
of my said adventure. And the rest of my said adventure, which is the one
moiety thereof, I do give unto the children of my said brother, John
Fortescue and Robert Fortescue, to be equally divided between them.
And also I give and bequeath unto William Fortescue, my servant, ten pounds
to be paid unto him within one year after his return of this voyage, which I
have now in hand.
Item, I give unto Peter Hitchcock , my boy, five pounds to be in like manner
after his return.
Item, I give unto Roger Cook, my servant, five marks to be paid in like
manner after his return of the said voyage.
Item, unto Thomas Gunter, my servant, five marks to be paid in like manner
after his return of the said voyage.
Item, I give unto Richard Farndon, son of Richard Farndon, fletcher in
Holborn, ten pounds to be paid within five years next after my death.
Item, I will and also my mind is that my executors hereafter named shall
within one half year next after my death buy or provide five gold rings,
every one them to be of the value of forty shillings in gold, and in every
of the said rings, which I pray my said overseers to account as my friendly
gift and monument of my good will and love towards them.
The residue of all my good, chattels and debts, not given or devised, I do
give and bequeath unto my brother, John Fortescue, whom I do make and ordain
my executor of this my last will and testament. And I do make and ordain
John Fortescue of Spurleston [? Spriddleston] my father, George Cary of
Staveley, John Fortescue of Wood, John Fortescue of Fallapit, Esquires, and
Wa[l]ter Hele of Wollington to be my overseers of this my last will and
testament. These being witnesses, William Hawkins, Esquire, Thomas Mayne,
gentleman, and the said Walter Hele. In witness whereof I have hereunto put
my hand and seal , given the day and year first abovesaid.
[Probate was granted to the executor, John Fortescue, on 3rd May 1580]