March 18, 2016 by auntkatefirmin
While Thomas Willis is not a direct ancestor of Kate Firmin, I have transcribed his will (from the probate copy in the PCC ledger) here for a number of reasons. I left the spelling as it was in the original and there may be small errors in the transcription, for while this will was relatively easy to read there are always bits that are tricky to decipher.
-Information in the will forms the primary proof of the identity of Christian Skull, the mother of Charles Skull and grandmother of Sarah Skull, who are direct ancestors.
-It is indirect evidence of the network of connections of the Skull family and direct evidence of the wealth (forty pounds was a lot of money then) of the community members of Tockenham Wick where Charles Skull is assumed to have lived for many years.
-It is an interesting example of the will of a pious individual in the era of the English Civil War and sheds light on either the personal religious views of Thomas (and by extension the rest of his family) or at least it conveys what was considered to be a conventionally appropriate sentiment.
I have only done preliminary investigation on Thomas & his sons, but not much has turned up. I am hoping to make a guess at which of the many John Skulls was a witness to the will, although I don’t know if that will help untangle the relationships in the Skull family. Thomas married Christian about 1638, so by 1646 the children were not much older than eight, so after seven years they might be old enough to desired to be apprenticed, which may be why the distribution of their portions was not set as age 21.
IN THE NAME OF GOD AMEN
The fourth day of July And in the year of our Lord God One thousand six hundred
fortytwo I Thomas Willis of Tockenham Wick in the County of Wilts Yeoman
being weake in body but in perfect mind and memory thanks I give to god for it Do
ordaine and make my last will and testament in manner and form following FIRST
I give and bequeath my Soule into the hands of Almighty God that gave it thene to rest in
the bosome of Abraham and my body to be buryed in the Church yard of Tockenham
aforesaid there to remaine until the generall resurrection which of we believe through
a true and lively faith in Christ ____ my strength and my redeemer Amen And for
my worldly goods I willingly bestowe in manner and forme following IMPRIMIS I give
unto Thomas Willis my Sonne twenty pounds of good and lawfull mony of England
to be paid unto him within Seaven years after my decease and my best bedsteed but my wife
to have the use of the bedsteed so long as she liveth ITEM I give unto Anthony Willis my
Sonne twenty pounds of like lawful mony of England to be paid unto him within Seaven
years after my decease And if either of my Children shall happen to die before his
commeth to Age my will is that the other shall have his portion Also I give to my Sonne Anthony
the bedsteed in the Chamber above the Hall but my wife to have the use of the bedsteed so long
as she liveth ITEM I give unto Anne Yeallis one flock bed which is on bedsteed in the Chamber
over the Hall Also I give unto the poore of the parish of Tockenham Wicke three shillings and
foure pence Lastly All my goods and chattell both moveable and unmoveable not by me
before given and bequeathed my debts being paid my Legacies performed and my funerall
expenses xxxx my will is that Christen my wife shall have whom I ordaine and make
my whole executrix of this my last will and Testament Also I __ ordaine and make
Symon Gleed my father in law to be Overseer of this my last Will and Testament
desiring him to see all things to be justly delivered and for his painestaking I give him
two shillings In witness whereof I the Said Thomas Willis have hereunto Set my hand
and Seale this day and year first above written The Signe and Seale of Thomas Willis
Sealed and xxx in the presence of John Skull George Weekes
[The ledger continues with probate information given in Latin]