Buried information

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The will which follows serves to reinforce all the regrets family historians have when they remember the destruction of thousands and thousands of Devon wills during the bombing of Exeter in 1942.

One of the tiny handful of those which happened to survive because they were in the wrong place at the time, we find in the will of Joseph Stuttaford dozens of pieces of information which are absolutely invaluable to someone trying to reconstruct their family tree. Many of the relevant parish registers are incomplete or even missing; many of the people mentioned share their first name with other contemporary family members, and one and all moved from place to place in an age which predated the modern census return by many years.

Joseph Stuttaford had no children of his own and his wife had died by the time he made the will. We know precisely who he is though. He names his brothers, and tells us his sisters' married names enabling us to identify his parents correctly; he names their children, his nieces and nephews, by referring to the parent of each and gives the married names of his nieces. He even names his brother-in-law, confirming his wife's maiden name. Finally, he names and identifies his relationship with his executor and identifies an ultimate heir who will inherit the residue of his estate at some time in the future. Now, if only each of us had that kind of help when doing our research!



NEPHEWS: Richard, his executor s of his brother John
William s of his brother John
William s of his brother Archelaus
Joseph s of his brother Archelaus
John s of his brother Archelaus
James Blatchford s of his sister Elizabeth
John Toop s of his sister Mary
William Toop s of his sister Mary
Henry Toop s of his sister Mary
NIECES: Elizabeth (Lethbridge) d of his brother John
Mary Wilcocks d of his sister Elizabeth
Jenny Bickle Toop d of his sister Mary
GREAT NEPHEW: Joseph (joint leaseholder) s of his nephew Richard

Edward Pearse

bro. of his late wife Ann


Huckworthy Bridge

Huckworthy Bridge


Joseph made his will some two years before his death and the final part shows just how complex leasing by three or five lives could be*.  When he made the will, he was already 76. His nephew Richard died in 1829 at the age of 57 and his great nephew Joseph died aged 39  in 1835. After Joseph's death, the father and son both moved to Plymouth according to information in the burial registers of Egg Buckland and Walkhampton respectively..

Incidentally, look in Issue 2 at the last part of story called Death comes with friendly care and read what happened to the younger Joseph's children.


*A three-life lease was expected to run for about 75 years - a five-life lease for the best part of a century. Such leases are still very common here in Devon. They create an incentive to keep up repairs, add new buildings and amenities and maintain the property in good order.

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