November 27, 2015 by auntkatefirmin
My working theory is that Elizabeth Horsell came from a long line of Horsells who lived in Wootton Bassett. Happily there is evidence of their lives that has survived, including the will of her great-grandfather Bartholomew.
The will of Bartholomew Horsell was written on October the 2nd and he was buried shortly after, on the 7th. It appears that he was unwell and did not expect to live much longer; his signature on the will is very shaky. His inventory was taken very promptly on the 11th of October, 1701. Despite the fact that his primary heir was over 21, it appears that he had enough confidence in his wife’s talents to name her as his sole executrix.
Bartholomew appears to have done his best to distribute his goods and property as fairly as he could while favoring the eldest children. He had enough property that three of the sons (Bartholomew, John and Henry) were able to inherit real estate. No mention is made of his business inventory and based on his wife’s inventory she proceeded to handle the shop income.
Bartholomew had eleven children over a span of twenty years. If his wife Mary, mentioned in the will, was the mother of all the children she was about forty when William (the last child) was born and close to sixty when she died in 1706.
Several unsourced trees on the internet & ancestry have a death date for Bartholomew of May 1702 which doesn’t fit with an inventory date of October 1701; the will and inventory do fit for the Bartholomew Horsell buried in Wootton-Bassett in October 1701. Bartholomew was a common name in the family, but I haven’t yet seen evidence for another Bartholomew dying a few months later so I don’t have a theory about where the May 1702 information originated.
Several of the undocumented trees give Bartholomew’s wife’s name as Mary Mapson. The only marriage record I have found that is a good fit this Bartholomew is for January 1668 to Maria Vines in Winterbourne Monckton, which is less than ten miles from Wootton Bassett. Other Horsells did marry women from the Mapson family: Mary & Bartholomew in 1733 and Martha & Bartholomew in 1754. It’s certainly possible that earlier records exist but are poorly indexed. At this point I haven’t come to a conclusion about the identity of Bartholomew’s wife.
Bartholomew was a popular name in the Horsell family and if not for the will, I’d be hesitant to group all eleven children into one family. I hope that there are bits of information as yet undiscovered that might help with this puzzle. Of course, it’s always possible that his widow was not the mother of any or all of the children listed in the will.
Some of the family members are only known from the will so I have presumed their birth order based on the order the children were named in the will. Several of Bartholomew’s daughters were old enough to be married by 1701 but his will does not provide us with any clues to their married names. Of the children, I have only followed the descendants of John. There are a number of Horsell families in the area all using the same names for their children and it’s easy to get them mixed up.
Baptised April 1668: Mary, age 33, who received 20 shillings and an iron pot. If she never married, she could be the Mary “Horssell” buried in Avebury in 1710.
Baptised December 1670: Dorothy, who was buried the following February.
Baptised February 1671/2 Bartholomew, age 29, who received a bed & bedstead, half of the close & lower garden, and the messuage. The only Horsell listed in the 1705 poll book entries for Wootton Bassett was named Bartholomew; because of the property I have assumed him to be the son of Bartholomew. He was living in “the cottage” at the time of his father’s death. I have not found a marriage or burial record for him.
Baptised February 1674/5 John, age 26, who received half of the close as well as a coffer & table board. John was the father of Henry, and the father of at least six other children, but otherwise very little has come to light about his life. It may be that he disposed of his property while he was still living and therefore had no estate eligible for probate at the time of his death. It is possible he built a house on his half of the property as his son Henry had a messuage at the time of his death; another possibility is that he inherited his brother Bartholomew’s portion of the the property, including the messuage. I have not found a marriage or burial record for him; I assume he was the father of all seven Horsell children baptized between 1699 and 1708 with a father named John.
Baptised May 1677: Ann, age 24, who received 20 shillings and a bed. She is only two years younger than another Ann, the daughter of Nathan Horsell of Wootton Bassett. I have not found a marriage or burial record for her.
Possibly about 1678: Lidia, about 21, who received 20 shillings and a brass brewing kettle. I have not found a marriage or burial record for her.
Baptised January 1680/1: Edith, presumed to have died before 1701 as she is not mentioned in the will.
Baptised October 1683: Henry, age 18 and living at home, who received the cottage. I have not found a marriage or burial record that I am certain is for him.
About 1685: Reubin, age 16, who received five pounds. I have not found a marriage or burial record that I am certain is for him.
Baptised August 1687 Elizabeth, age 14 and living at home, who received 20 shillings and a bed. I have not found a marriage or burial record for her.
Baptised January 1689/90: William, age 13, who received brass pot and 50 shillings. I have not found a marriage or burial record that I am certain is for him.
My best guesses as to the identities of the Witnesses to the will are:
William Cripps, a baker, who had a will probated in 1707 and may have been the person of that name baptized in 1654.
Bartholomew’s son Henry is not yet 21, so the witness Henry Horsell is probably Bartholomew’s brother.
R Bayly could be Rolfe Bayly, but I haven’t discovered much about this individual.
In future posts I will include the text of the will, write more about the inventory and how the family possessions can be tracked through the inventory of Bartholomew’s wife Mary, and hopefully a little bit about life in the 17th century.