1724 – Abraham Annis of Sproxton

ABRAHAM ANNIS, Son of Abraham and who lived in the village of Sproxton, Leicestershire, was one of my Great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents and like everyone else, I have 256 of those! He was born in apparenty born in 1656 but I’ve not been able to verify that date.

This Last Will and Testament was written on the 14th of September 1724. Abraham died the following month in October 1724, in his Will in states he was ‘very sick and weak in body’. He was buried in Sproxton churchyard.

In the name of God, Amen. The Fourteenth Day
of September in the year of our Lord, 1724. I Abraham
Annis of Sproxton in the County of Leicester, Yeoman, being
very sick and weak in Body, but of perfect mind and
Memory, Thanks be given unto God, therefore, calling unto
Mind and the Morality of my body, and knowing it is appointed
for all Men once to dye, to make an ordain this my last
Will and Testament; That is to say, principally, & first
of all. I give and recommend my Soul into the Hands of
God that gave it; and for my body, I recommend it to ye Earth
to be buryed in a Christianlike and decent manner, at the
Direction of my Executor & Executrices, nothing doubting but at
the General Resurrection, I shall receive ye same again by ye
mighty Bonver? of God; and as touching such morality estate,
wherewithin it have pleased God to save? me in this life, I
give devise, and dispose of the same, and the following manner
and Form.

Imprimis [‘in the first place’].
I give onto Isabel Burton, Wife of Richard Burton one shilling
Item. I give unto Thomas Annis, my son and Eleanor, Anne,
and Hannah Annis, my daughters, all my household
goods, equally to be divided among them all four.
All the rest of my Goods, Chattels and Cattle I give unto
Anne Annis, my loving Wife and unto Thomas Annis,
my son, whom my likewise constitute, make and ordain my
sole executrix and executor of this my last Will and Testament.
And I do hereby utterly disallow, revoke and disannul all
and every other former Testaments, Wills, Legacies, Bequests
and Executors, by me any in any way before this time named.
Willed and Bequeathed, Ratifying and Confirming this, and no other,
to be my last Will & Testament. In Witness thereof, I have
here unto set my Hand and Seal, ye Day and Year above written.

Signed, Sealed, Published, Pronounced and
Declared by ye Said Abraham Annis as his
Last Will and Testament in ye presence
Of us the Subscribers, viz

John Annis
Henry Bend
Joseph Gleaves



Witness: Brother John
Children: Thomas, Isabel, Elinor, Anne and Hannah

MARY ANNIS , a daughter of Abraham & Anne Annis, born in 1704, is not mentioned in her father’s Will. However, she was mentioned in her grandfather’s Will written in 1705. We could assume she dies before Abraham (junior) wrote his wife. If that is the case, she would have died between 1705 and 1724. During that timescale her age would have been somewhere between her first year and her 20th year

There was also a son, WILLIAM, born 1707 who is not mentioned in this will, As with Mary, he may have died before 1724.

NB. Those highlighted in blue are my direct male ancestors.

Below are the details and costs of Abraham’s possessions, which includes the content of his house, his animals and farm equipment.

October ye 9th 1724

A xxxxx and perfect Inventory of all the
Goods and Chattels of Abraham Annis Died

His Purse and apparel                  5 0 0
Table Chairs and Stools in the house      0 12 0
One Tester bed bedding? two Cheeses in the parlour 12 0 0
In the Chamber of the Kitchen one bed and Xxxxxx Six Chairs 2 0 0
In the Kitchen Pewter and Brass 2 0 0
Flour xxxxxx    xxxxxx and other things 1 10 0
1 Chest of Linen in it 1 10 0
Twelve beasts and Six Calves 25 0 0
Five Mares and one foal 18 0 0
Two Colts 8 0 0
Sheep 17 0 0
Swine 2 0 0
Barley and other grain 30 0 0
Hay 10 0 0
One Wagon Two Carts 11 0 0
Xxxx xxxx Sheep Cribs & Beast Cribbs 1 5 0
Horse Trough  xxxx xxxx & xxxxxx 1 0 0
Four ploughs Harrow & xxxxx 1 10 0
xxxx upon the xxxxx 7 0 0
Things not xxxx & forgotten 0 2 6
£147 19 6

John Bend
John Annis Appraisers

Item 3 – A ‘tester bed’ is a four-poster bed with four vertical columns, one in each corner, that support a tester, or upper (usually rectangular) panel.


1705 – Abraham Annis of Sproxton

ABRAHAM ANNIS, who lived in the village of Sproxton, Leicestershire, was one of my Great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents and as with everyone, I have 512 of those! He was born in 1634 and was baptised on 14th September 1634

This Last Will and Testament was written on the 11th of June 1705. Abraham lived for a further nine years before dying in 1714. He was buried in Sproxton churchyard on Tuesday 6th March of that year. He had reached the age of 79 years.

Probate was granted on 22nd April 1715.

In the name of God, amen
The eleventh day of June
in the year of our Lord, 1705 by Abraham Anis of Sproxton
in the County of Leicestershire Moreover being of perfect Mind and Memory thanks be
given unto God therefore, I make and ordain this, my last Will and Testament
first of all I recommend my soul into the hand of God that I gave it, and for
my Body I command it to the earth, to be Buryed in a Christian like Manner at
the direction of my Executive, and my Worldly Estate, I Give xxxx and xxxxxx of –
in manner and form following.
I give and bequeath to John Annis My oldest son one shilling.
I give to Abraham Annis my second son one shilling
I give to Jonathan Annis my youngest son one shilling
I give unto my two grandchildren, Robert and Alice the son and daughter of John Annis to each five shillings.
I give unto my four grandchildren viz Thomas Annis, Isabel Annis, Elinor and Mary Annis, Children of Abraham Annis five shillings a piece.
I give ten shillings unto the four of the poorest Widows of Sproxton to be
divided and given to such as my Executive and ye overseers’ of ye poor shall
xxx xxxx xxxx
I do make and constitute Elinor Annis my sole Executive
of this my last Will and Testament all my Goods by her freely to be enjoyed
and I do hereby utterly revoke and xxxxx all former Wills and Testaments
confirming this to be my last Will and Testament.

In Witness thereof I have xxx unto xxx my hand and soul ye day and year
above written.

Signed Sealed and Declared
In ye presence of us
Robert Annis
John North
Samuel Trubshanie



Witness: Brother Robert
Children: John, Abraham, Elinor and Jonathan
Grandchildren: Robert, Alice, Thomas, Isabel, Elinor and Mary

NB. Those highlighted in blue are my direct male ancestors


1856- William Shellaker of Oakham

Information to follow…..

1900 – Richard Shellaker of Billesdon Lodge

Richard Shellaker was born the village of Tugby in Leicestershire on 25th April 1830. He married Mary Ann Grocock of Hallaton in Tugby church on 12th March 1861. This Will was signed on 17th March 1900 when he was 70 years old. Richard died on 20th July 1904 aged 74 years and was buried in Billesdon Cemetery.  … ………


The Last Will & Testament of Richard Shellaker of Billesdon – 1900

I, RICHARD SHELLAKER of Billesdon Lodge in the County of Leicester, Farmer, hereby revokes all former Wills and testamentary dispositions made by me and declare this to be my Last Will and Testament.

No. Item
1 I appoint my two sons WILLIAM SHELLAKER and JOHN SHELLAKER  (hereafter called my trustees) to be Executors and Trustees of this my Will


I give all my wines, liquors and consumable stores and the use and enjoyment of my plates and plates articles, linen, china, glass, books, pictures, prints, musical instruments, watches, jewellery, ornaments of the person and other tickets, furniture and other household Effects in or about or belonging to my dwelling house the outbuildings thereof unto my Wife, MARY ANN SHELLAKER during her life and after her death I direct that the said Effects shall fall into and constitute part of my residuary personal Estate.


I direct that my Trustees shall permit my said Wife to carry on for her own benefit during her life the farming business in which I may be engaged in at my death and for such purposes to take use and dispose of all such live and dead stock in trade and all other effects which may at my death be used in such business or to secure that the value of the farming effects used in the said business and passing to my Estate at my death of my Wife shall be equal to her value of the farming effects at my death.


I devise and bequeath all my real estate and personal Estate not hereby otherwise disposed of unto my  Trustees upon trust to sell and covert into money the same and out of monies arising therefrom to pay my funeral and testamentary expenses and debts and to invest the residue of the said money.


I direct that my Trustees shall stand possessed of the said residuary trust monies and the investments for the time being representing the same (hereafter called the residuary trust funds) in trust to pay the income thereof to my said Wife during her life.


From and after the decease of my said Wife I direct that my Trustees shall stand possessed of the Residuary Trust funds in trust for all of my children who shall attain the age of twenty-one years in equal shares absolutely but subject as to my daughter MARY JANE BROWN (POLLY) to the directions herein after container.


I hereby direct and declare that my Trustees shall hold the share of the Residuary Trust funds to which my daughter MARY JANE BROWN (POLLY) the wife of FRANCIS BROWN (FRANK) would be titled under my Will upon trust to invest the same and to pay the income thereof unto my said daughter during the life for her separate use and without power for her to anticipate the same and after the death of my said daughter I direct my Trustees to pay and divide the capital of such last mentioned share unto and equally against all the children of my said daughter who shall obtain the age of twenty-one years absolutely.


I declare that my Trustees may postponed the sale and conversation of any part of my real and personal estate for so long after my death as they shall think fit and I expressly direct that my Trustees shall not sell my real estate in Tugby in the county of Leicester during the life of my Wife without her consent in writing. 

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand this Seventeenth day of March One Thousand Nine Hundred.


Signed by the said RICHARD SHELLAKER the Testator as and for his last Will and Testament in the presence of us who in his presence at his request and in the presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses being both present at the time of such execution.

Wm Simpson – Solicitor Leicester
F.F.Carter – his Clerk

On the Seventeenth day of September 1904 Probate of this Will was granted at Leicester to William Shellaker and John Shellaker the sons, the Executors.

Taken from the Register of Wills. Year 1904: Page 502
Record Office For Leicestershire Leicester & Rutland, Long Street, Wigston, Leicestershire

1814 – Francis Shellaker of Lyndon

Francis Shellaker born in the village of Lyndon in the County of Rutland in 1733. He married Sarah Scott of the same parish in 1760. This Will was signed on 21st July 1814 when had he reached at the advanced age of 81 years. He died the following year, 1815 and was buried in Lyndon Churchyard…..

His family and the legacies mentioned in his will are below. Click on the image to open a larger picture



The Last Will & Testament of Francis Shellaker of Lyndon in the County of Rutland – 1814

In the Name of God Amen. I FRANCIS SHELLAKER of Lyndon in the County of Rutland, Cordwainer, [1] being of sound and disposing mind, memory and understanding but mindful of my mortality do this twenty first day of July of the year of our Lord, One Thousand eight hundred and fourteen make and publish this my last Will and Testament in manner and form following.

I give and bequeath to my son RICHARD SHELLAKER all my freehold closes lying and being in the Lordship of Glaston [2] in the County of Rutland aforesaid to hold the same to my said son Richard Shellaker for and during his natural life and for and during the life of his present wife MARY SHELLAKER after which I give and bequeath and devise the same to my Grandson WILLIAM SHELLAKER son of the aforesaid Richard Shellaker his heir and assigns for ever on condition that he the aforesaid William Shellaker shall pay out of the said estate to each of his two Sisters the sum of thirty pound and all such other legacies hereinafter mentioned unless they have been paid before time.

I likewise I give a bequeath to my said Grandson William and his two Sisters CATHERINE and SARAH, son and daughters of my said son Richard Shellaker the sum of ten pounds each to be paid to each of them by my Executors herein after mentioned at the end of twelve calendar months after my decease.

I give and bequeath to my daughter in law Mary Shellaker wife of my said son Richard Shellaker the sum of twenty pound.

I give and bequeath to my five Grand Children FRANCIS, THOMAS, SARAH, JOHN and WILLIAM the Sons and daughter of my son William Shellaker the sum or sums of ten Pounds each to be paid to then severally as they attain the Age of twenty one years.

I give and bequeath to my to my daughter ANN BROOKS, wife of John Brooks the sum of thirty pounds to be paid to her at the end of twelve calendar months after my decease also to my Grandson, the son of the said John and Ann Brooks (now an infant) the sum of ten pound to be paid to him when he attains the age if twenty one years. I give and bequeath to my Grand-daughter SARAH LOWE, wife of Samuel Lowe the sum of sixty pound to be paid to her at the end of twelve calendar months after my decease likewise to my two grand children, SAMUEL and MARY, Son and Daughter of the said Samuel and Sarah Lowe the sum of ten pounds each to be paid to them severally (when they) attain the age if twenty one years.

I give and bequeath to my Son in Law CUTHBERT BUCK the sum of ten pounds to be paid to him at the end of twelve calendar months after my decease and whereas I have one hundred and eighty pounds in the hands of A. W. Bellairs & Son Bankers Stamford [3] in the County of Lincoln the said A. W. Bellairs & Son as this bankrupts the dividend of the said sum is uncertain but be the said dividend more of less I give and bequeath the same be divided amongst my daughter ANN BROOKS aforesaid, my granddaughter SARAH LOWE aforesaid and all the  rest of my Grandchildren and Great Grand Children hereinbefore expressed to be equally divided amongst them share and share alike to be likewise paid them as they severally attain the said age of twenty-one years  

but if any of them die unmarried before he or she attain the said age of twenty-one years his or her share so dying shall lapse to the Executor and if any of the aforementioned named Legacies  should not be paid as at the herein expressed I give full power by this my Will to my two sons in law, that is to say my son in law John Brooks and my grandson in law Samuel Lowe, to see that the said Legacies  so omitted duly paid and to distrain for the same all the rest residue and remainder of my Money, Credits, Goods, Chattels, Cattle and personal Estate whatsoever and wheresoever and of who’s nature kind or quality soever the same may be, after payment of my debts Legacies, Funeral expenses  and the expense of proving this my Will.

I do hereby give and bequeath the same to my said Son Richard Shellaker, whom I ordain nominate, constitute and appoint Executor of this my last Will and Testament wrote of two sheets of paper annexed together reworking all former and other  Wills and Testaments by me at any time heresofore made.

In witness whereof I have to this my last Will and Testament set and subscribed my hand and seal that is to say my hand to the first sheet and my hand and seal to the second and last sheet the day and year above written.

Signed, sealed, published and declared by the said

Testator Francis Shellaker as and for his last Will
and Testament in the presence of us who at his
request in his presence and in the presence of
each other subscribed our names thereto







William Palfy
Joseph Pinney
Edward Potter

On this the 21st day of February 1816 Richard Shellaker of Lyndon the Executor …..the within Will was then …..and faithfully to perform the same according to Law and that the within named deceased at the time of his death was not…..personal estate to the amount of two hundred pounds.

Before me


[1] Cordwainer – a shoemaker who makes new shoes and boots from new leather. This is in contrast with a cobbler who only repaired shoes.

[2] Glaston– is a village in Rutland 3 miles south of Lyndon. Its is recorded in White’s Directory for 1846 as being ‘a pleasant village on the Stamford Road, 2 miles E. by N. of Uppingham. It has in its parish 294 souls and about 1,000 acres of land. Within the village was a Wheelwright, a Blacksmith, a Joiner who was also the Parish Clerk, a public house – The Three Horse Shoes, a Grocer and Baker, two Boot and Shoemakers, a Constable and several Farmers and Glaziers.

I do not know the location of the ‘freehold closes’ (fields) within Glaston which are mentioned in this Will.

[3] Bellairs‘ commenced banking in the 1780s at Stamford in Lincolnshire, where they traded as dealers and chapmen. Branches were subsequently opened at Derby and Leicester, the latter as Bellairs, Welby & Co, later George Bellairs. Although their business had a high reputation, a run developed on the Stamford Bank in July 1814, which forced closure after only one and a half hours. The Leicester branch failed the following day, and the Derby office the day after that. The assets were sufficient to satisfy all creditors within two years.

In his Will Francis Shellaker has placed £180 in 1814 with Bellairs’ but as you can read above the bank failed in July of the same year but it appears Francis’ children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren who have received their legacies as the bank had paid all creditors by 1816.


Francis had five children, once of whom Ann died at only one day old. Of his four surviving children two received legacies but two children are not mentioned in their father’s Will, but it is possible his daughter Mary had died by the time the Will was written.

MARY SHELLAKER – not mentioned in the Will.
Francis’ daughter MARY SHELLAKER, who was baptised on 15th Aug 1764, is not mentioned in her father’s Will but her husband, Cuthbert – a soldier, whom she married aged 21 year on the 17th Sept 1785, at the Owston, is mentioned and receives a legacy.

It is my assumption that when the Will was written in 1814 Mary had died – in that years she would have reached the age of around 50 years.

However I have not sought or found any records to support that assumption that she had died but neither have I located any further records of Mary Shellaker since her wedding in 1785.

WILLIAM SHELLAKER  – not mentioned in the Will.
Francis’ son WILLIAM SHELLAKER, who was baptised on 28th Oct 1772,  is also not mentioned in her father’s Will. However records suggest he was still alive at the time this Will was written in 1814.

I believe William married MARY WOODS on 12th April 1798. William and Mary had six children; Francis (b.1799), Sarah (born and died in 1800), Thomas (b. 1801) , another Sarah (b. 1802), John (b. 1804) and William for whom the record of his birth/baptism has not been located but his existence is proven by this Will of his grandfather.

A record can be seen of a William Shellaker receiving an apprenticeship from Robert Pitt of Caldercott in Rutland as a Tailor from 30th June 1786 to 4th April 1789, if this is the son of Francis he would have been 13 years old at the start of this apprenticeship and 16 years old once completed.

The 1841 Census taken on 6th June of that year records a William Shellaker, a Tailor, living in Northgate Street in Oakham with an age of 65 years. At first viewing this is not consistent with William’s birth date of 28th October 1772 as he would have reached 68 years at the time of the Census. However in the 1841 Census In the 1841 census, the age of people over 15 are rounded down to the nearest multiple of 5 – so in this instance 68 years is recorded as 65. There is no record of his wife Mary on this Census.

The 1851 Census taken on 30th March of that year records a William Shellaker, a Tailor, living in Northgate Street in Oakham with an age of 78 years. with a birthplace of Lyndon in Rutland. On this record it appears his condition is that of a ‘Widower’ but I have not found any record the death of his wife. The age of 78 is totally consistent with William’s birth date of 28th October 1772.

A William Shellaker, who lived in Northgate Street, Oakham was buried in that town on 13th Feb 1857 at the age of 84 years. This age at death is totally consistent with William’s birth date of 28th October 1772.

So it is established that Francis’ son William was alive when his father’s Will was written in 1814, when William was 41 years old but I have no clue why he was excluded from a legacy from his father.

MARY SHELLAKER – receives a legacy
Francis’ daughter ANN, now married with a surname of BROOK, receives a legacy of £30.

RICHARD SHELLAKER – receives a legacy
Francis’ firstborn child RICHARD appears to be the main beneficiary of the Will, receiving the ‘freehold closes’  at Glaston.

Francis has two son-in-laws and two daughter-in-laws and again, there are inconsistencies with the legacies contained within the Will.

Francis provides a legacy to his son-in-law Cuthbert Buck, the sum of £10 but their is no legacy to his other son-in-law John Brook or to his daughter-in-law Mary Shellaker (the wife of William Shellaker mentioned above). His other daughter-in-law, also named Mary Shellaker (but she is the wife of Richard Shellaker mentioned above) does not receive a specific legacy but, in the event of the death of her husband, receives the ‘freehold closes’  at Glaston during her own lifetime.

Francis has nine surviving grandchildren, all of whom receive a legacy. The three children of Richard & Mary all receive £10 plus the two girls Katherine and Sarah will each receive £30 from their brother William upon him receiving ‘freehold closes’  at Glaston upon the death of both her parents. The five children of William and his wife Mary Wood all receive £10 and does the infant son of Ann Shelacres and John Brook.

It appears his granddaughter Sarah Lowe receives two legacies; “I give and bequeath to my five Grand Children Francis, Thomas, Sarah, John and William……the sum or sums of ten Pounds” and also “I give and bequeath to my Grand-daughter Sarah Lowe, wife of Samuel Lowe the sum of sixty pound.

I do not know why this should be so.

Finally his two grandchildren Samuel and Mary Lowe, the children of his granddaughter Sarah mentioned directly above, both receive £10.


16th March 2016

1834 – Richard Shellaker of Lyndon

Richard Shellaker was born in Lyndon, Rutland in 1761. He married Mary Gibbons in that parish church in November 1787. This Will was signed on 27th December 1834 when he was 73 years old. Richard died a few days after making his Will and he was buried in Lyndon Churchyard on the 1st of January 1835.

His family and the legacies mentioned in his will are below. Click on the image to open a larger picture




The last Will & Testament
of me Richard Shellaker of Lyndon I leave to Mary Shellaker my Wife
(^for her life) all the property both real & personal which I do or shall at the time of my
death possess [1]

                  in case the said Mary Shellaker should not survive me I leave
to my son William Shellaker (^and his heirs) the house in Tugby in which he is living at
the date of this Will with the Garden about it [2]

to my Daughter Catharine
Partridge (^and her heirs) the Mill in Tugby on condition of her paying to her daughter
Jemima Partridge the sum of twenty pounds as soon as she comes into
possession of the Mill [3]

to my Daughter Sarah Barsby (^and her heirs) seventy pounds[4]

more I die possessed of is to be divided equally between the aforesaid William
Shellaker Catharine Partridge and Sarah Barsby

                                                                         if the aforesaid Mary Shellaker
my wife survive me my property is to be divided amongst my Children in the
manner above explained at her death |viz the house in Tugby to William
Shellaker and his heirs the Mill (charged with twenty pounds)| to Catharine
Partridge & her heirs and seventy pounds to Sarah Barsby and (^or) her heirs signed
the twenty seventh day

And I leave (^appoint) my son William Shellaker the Executor
of this Will signed by me (^this) twenty seventh day of December in the year of our
Lord eighteen hundred and thirty four by me

Richard Shellaker X his
mark (^read over and)

signed in the presence of me Thomas Kerchever Arnold
Rector of Lyndon William Wright Labourer Lyndon Eleanor
Wright Wife of William Wright Labourer Lyndon X her Mark

Proved at London 29 June 1835 before the Judge by the Oath of
William Shellaker the Son the sole Executor to whom Admon was
granted having first sworn by Comon duly to administer

[The notes ‘Original’ and ‘same’ in the margin indicate that the insertions and words struck through are recorded as in the original will]



[1] Richard is leaving everything he possesses to Mary his wife to own for the rest of her life. (She lived just over 9 years after the death of husband)

[2] Provision is made for legacies to his three children in the event that his wife Mary dies before him. The first of which is to his son William (and William’s heirs) of the house and garden in Tugby in which William lives.

[3] Richard leaves the Mill in Tugby to his oldest daughter Catherine, stipulating that Catherine’s daughter Jemima receives £20 when Catherine takes possession of the Mill. It is not known if Catherine ever took possession of the Mill as we know that in 1841, less than six years after probate was granted,  Catherine is recorded as living in the Rutland village of Manton with her husband John. John’s occupation is that of a Miller and Baker so the legacy of a Mill to Catherine seems logical.

[4] Richard leaves his other daughter Sarah the sum of £70

1760 – Francis Shellaker of Lyndon

Francis Shellaker was baptised on 16th January 1689 in the parish church in Lyndon in the County of Rutland. The Will was written on 7th September 1760 when he was 71 years old. He was the youngest of the six children of Richard Shelacres & Elizabeth and remained unmarried until he died in 1776.. …….



Francis can bee seen on the far right, highlighted in gold, of the section of the family tree above and he was the brother of Richard Shelacres who was baptised in February 1686. This Richard Shelacres was my great-great-great-great-great grandfather and therefore Francis Shelacres was my great-great-great-great-great grand uncle.


The Last Will & Testament of Francis Shellaker

Below is the Will of Francis Shellaker, the main part of which was written on 7th September 1760 by which time Francis had reached the age of 71 years. I have spilt this Will into sections with each section showing a copy of the original Will, followed by the transcribed text and then an explanation of the content of that section.

Francis 1760 Will -1

I FRANCIS SHELLAKER of Lyndon in Rutland do make
this my last will and testament. Recommending my soul into the hand
of God. I order that my Body be decently buried in the Churchyard
of Lyndon1 and that a Gravestone be set up at the end of my grave.

I give to my nephew RICHARD SHELLAKER 3 my house at Morcott 4
now in tenure of John Tomlyn, with the Beadhouse leys 5; an acre of
land in each field, and all the sheep, commons cow and horse commons
thereto belonging, and all outhouses and timber standing thereon; he pay-
ing to my execution twenty pounds to be distributed according to the
directions in this my Will. And I order that if he shall refuse or
neglect to pay the said twenty pound within a year after my death,
it shall be lawful for my executor to enter on the said house and land
and by lease or mortgage thereof to raise the abovementioned sum.6

1 Burial – The first stipulation in his Will was for his body to be buried in the churchyard in Lyndon. This wish were granted  – within the parish record of the village is a record of his burial which took place on Wednesday 11th September 1776. The record can be seen below. Francis died around 16 years, to the week, after he made his Will.

2 Gravestone – Francis also request that a gravestone be placed on his grave. His gravestone can still be seen in the graveyard at Lyndon as can be seen from the photograph below, together with the inscription. His grave is next to that of his brother Thomas who died before reaching his second birthday in 1685 – over 90 years prior to Francis’ death.

In the same row of gravestone is the father of Francis and the infant Thomas, Richard Shellaker,  who died in 1693 at the age of 42 years. The father Richard, and brother Thomas can be seen on the family tree at the top of this page.

3 Legacy to nephew Richard – The first mention of a legacy is to his nephew RICHARD, the son of his brother Richard.  (He can be seen on the family tree at the end of section together with the others mentioned in this Will).

When Francis made his Will this nephew Richard was unmarried and was approaching the age of 30 years but he married three years later on Sunday 30th October 1763 in the church in Horninghold, a small village in county of Leicestershire lying around eleven miles south-west of Lyndon. At the time of his marriage Richard was living in that village as was his bride MARY MARSHAL. The village of Morcott is less than 10 miles from Horninghold. It appears Richard did not live in the house bequeathed to him by his uncle as records indicate he continued to live in Horninghold.

4 Morcott  – This is a village in the county of Rutland located about seven miles south-east of Oakham. It is under three miles south of the village of Lyndon.

5 Beadhouse leys – I do not known the location of this area but at present I assume it is in our near the village of Morcott. The definition of a ‘Ley’ is  a piece of land put down to grass, clover, etc., for a single season or a limited number of years, in contrast to permanent pasture. The word is from the Old English lǣge meaning ‘fallow’.

6 Conditional – The legacy made to Richard was on condition he paid the sum of twenty pounds to cover other legacy and failure to pay could result in action by the executor to make good this money.

Item 1 in the Will – The Burial of Francis Shellaker

1776 Sept 11 Burial Francis Shellaker

Shellaker  |  Francis Shellaker, aged 86 was
buried September 11th

Item 2 in the Will – The Gravestone of Francis Shellaker


Lyndon_arrow_gravestonesFrancis Shellaker was buried in Lyndon churchyard. His gravestone still remain, although the inscription is now very difficult to read. It is located next to the gravestone of his father, Richard Shellaker and that of his brother Thomas who died just prior to his second birthday around four years before Francis was born.

Around 1999 I took a photograph of his grave and that of Richard and Thomas and noted the various inscriptions. This photograph is below together with one I’ve overlaid those inscriptions. The words for Francis read: 

Leith the body of
who departed this life
SEPTEMBER 11th 1776
in the 87th year of his life.

The gravestone of Francis Shellaker is located against a wall under a Cedar Tree as indicated by the arrow 


Lyndon Gravestones - Francis 1776 - Thomas 1685 - Richard 1693 x 2

The Gravestone of FRANCIS SHELLAKER 


Next Page: Further details of the Will of Francis Shellaker

1567 – John Shellacres of Leziate in Norfolk

henry1560This is the Will of a man with the surname of Shellacare. He made the Will in the year 1567 at which time he was a married man with a son therefore it is extremely probable he was over the age of twenty-one years. Accordingly he would have been alive during the reign of the infamous Henry VIII….

Henry was King of England from 21st April 1509 until his death on 28th January 1547. This was a mere two decades prior to the date of the Will.

Indeed if this man was over the age of 58 years old at the time he made his Will, which is possible, he would have also been alive in the reign of Henry VIII’s father – Henry VII who himself became king after seizing the crown on 22nd August 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth, defeating the Plantagenet Monarch Richard III, and in doing so became the first monarch of the House of Tudor.

Unfortunately, at present I cannot link this man, or his son, to the Shellaker / Shelacre family of Rutland & East Leicestershire. However the proximity of the village of Leziate to the known Shellaker / Shelacre location of Loddington is surely significant. The distance between them is only around 70 miles. Similarly significant could also the short gap in time between the date of this Will, 1567 and the time the Shelacres’ can be found in the records of Loddington c.1616 – only around 50 years and it should be remembered that the population of England at that time was relatively small. Population estimates vary but it is considered the number of people in England in 1520 was only around 2 million, rising to 3.2 million in 1600. The point being, as the population was so small and the distance between these two locations is relatively close, is it not acceptable to speculate the son of this man could be the father or grandfather of the Shelacres’ of Loddington?

Discovery of this Will & Translation

I discovered the existence of this Will by chance during  a random Google Search of the name ‘Shelacre‘. It is housed in the Norfolk Record Office, and following an email discussion with their Searchroom and Research Assistant, I purchased a copy which arrived by post a few days later.

However, as you will see below, the Will is very difficult to read. It is written in handwriting apparently known as ‘Secretary Hand’ and the language is ‘Early Modern English’ which developed from ‘Middle English’ after the late 15th century, and apart from a few words, is virtually indecipherable to the untrained eye.

I subsequently visited the Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester & Rutland and spoke to one of their Archivists who was not only was able to read the Will but also offered his services to translate it. I asked him to translate it line by line so that the resulting translation, which appears below on the left, directly relates to each line of the actual text in the original document. Below right is my ‘translation’ of that text into ‘Modern English’. Finally underneath each section are notes which explain some of the terminology used in this 1567 Will. To make it easier to ready I have split the Will into sections, each with the relevant translations and end notes.

I am extremely grateful to the Norfolk Record Office who granted me permission to reproduce the Will of John Shellacre on this website.

The Will of John Shellacre reproduced by special permission of Norfolk Record Office.
Norwich Consistory Court (NCC) will of John Shellacre, husbandman, of Leziate, 1568, ref: Ponder: 71, on microfilm MF 60.



The Last Will and Testament of John Shellacre of Leziate

A man who lived at the same time as Henry the Eight


John Shellacres of Leziate 1568 - Section 1

Transcription of Original text

Modern English

In the name of god amen the thre
and twentye daye of Marche in the Yeare of ouer
lord god a thousande five hundred threscore and
Seaven I John Shellacare of Lesiate within the
Countye of Norfolke husbandeman beinge of a
perfecte and good remembrannce thankes be
gevne to almightie god do ordeine and make
this my testament and Last Will in manner
and forme followenge
In the name of God amen the
twenty-third of March1 in the year of our
Lord God a thousand five hundred and threescore
and seven2 – I, John Shellacare of Leziate3, within the
County of Norfolk, husbandman4, being of
perfect and good remembrance, (being of sound mind) thanks be
given to almighty God do order and make
this my Testament and Last Will in (the) manner
and form as follows


1 23rd March – The date of this Will, 23rd March, which in 1567 was a Tuesday, is a unlikely to be a random date but possibility followed an ‘end of year’ assessment by John Shellacare of his wealth and property. I will explain further – in 1567 the Julian calendar was in use, as it would be for around the next 200 years until September 1752. Under the Julian calendar the New Year did not start, as it now does, on the 1st January but on 25th March – ‘Lady Day’.

Consequently until the change to the Gregorian calendar in 1752, 25th March was the start of the New Year. So, in England, the day after 24th March 1567 was 25th March 1568. Once the calendar changed, the day after 31st December 1751 was 1st January 1752 – a change that has obviously remained ever since.

Map show Leziate and LoddingtonLady Day is one of the Quarter Days which are still used in the legal system. The Quarter Days divide the year in quarters and are Lady Day (25th March), Midsummers Day (24th June), Michaelmas Day (29th September) and Christmas Day (25th December). Lady Day was also the traditional day on which yearly contracts between landowners and tenant farmers would begin and end.

The date of the Will, 23rd March, under the Julian calendar was only one day before the end of the ‘financial year-end’ and therefore it was a natural time for this John Shellacare to access his wealth and property and to make provisions, by means of a Last Will and Testament, for his wife and son.

2 1567 – At this time in history Queen Elizabeth I had been on the throne for around ten years, having started her reign on 17th November 1558 – a reign which was to last over forty years until 1603. Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife Anne Boleyn. The reign of Henry VIII commenced in 1509 and ended with his death in 1547 (a mere 20 years before this Will was written) so undoubtedly this man, John Shellacare, who was married with a child by 1567, lived during the time of the infamous Henry VIII.

3 Lesiate –  The place in which John Shellacare lived, and mentioned above as ‘Lesiate’ in Norfolk, has been identified as LEZIATE, a hamlet located around 5 miles due east of King’s Lynn, and around 7 miles south of The Wash.

Significantly it is less than 50 miles from the western edge of the County of Rutland and as such, is intriguingly close to the established ‘Shellaker/Shelacre’ locations of LYNDON in Rutland (58 miles) and LODDINGTON in East Leicestershire (74 miles). On the map on the right are the approximate locations of Leziate and Loddington.

Due to the unusual and infrequently distribution of ‘Shellaker/Shelacre’ surname together with the relatively close proximity of his home in Leziate to Rutland and East Leicestershire and it is highly possible, even probable that John Shellacare is a direct ancestor of the ‘Shellaker/Shelacre’ family who lived in, amongst other villages, Loddington, Lyndon, Tugby and Billesdon.

4 husbandman – This was a free tenant farmer or small landowner.



John Shellacres of Leziate 1568 - page 1

Transcription of Original text

Modern English

                                  Firste I bequeath my
sowle to almightie god my onlye maker and
redemer and my body to be buried within
the churche yarde of Lesiate afforesaide. Item – I
geve to the parson of the same towne for my
tithes oblite tenne pence
                               First I bequeath my
soul to almighty God my only maker and
redeemer and my body to be buried within
the church yard of Leziate3 already mentioned. Item – I
give to the parson of the same town for
forgotten tithes5, ten pence.


3 Lesiate – see above

5 Tithe – A tithe is a tenth part of agricultural or other produce, personal income, or profits, contributed either voluntarily or as a tax for the support of the church or clergy or for charitable purposes. NB ‘Oblite’ is the original text means ‘forgotten’, e.g. tithe payments overlooked.



John Shellacres of Leziate 1568 - Section 3

Transcription of Original text

Modern English              

                                      Item I geve to christes
churche in Norwiche fower pence Item I geve to
the reparacions of Lesiate churche iii s Item I
geve to the poore mens box vi d
                            Item – I give to Christ’s
church in Norwich four pence. Item – I give to
the reparations6 (repairs) of Leziate3 church three shillings. Item – I
give to the ‘poor box’ six pence.


3 Lesiate – see above

6 Reparations – The act or process of repairing or the condition of being repaired.

A Note on Currency. Pounds, Shillings and Pence were the divisions of currency at this time. One shilling was made up of twelve pence; one pound of twenty shillings, i.e. 240 pence. Pounds, of which there are no mention in this Will, are represented by the £ symbol, shillings as ‘s’ and pence as ‘d’ (from the Latin, denarius). ‘One pound. one shilling and one penny’ was written as £1 1s 1d.

In the previous section John Shellacare makes a tithe payment written, in the original, as ‘tenne pence’. This is obviously ten pence which is 2 pence short of one shilling. In the section above he gives the church in Norwich ‘fower pence’ (four pence) but also bequests ‘iii s’ to Leziate church. In this instance the person writing the Will uses the Roman numerals for three (iii), followed by ‘s’ for shilling. In the second example the ‘poor box’ receives a legacy, again written in Roman numerals, of vi (six) ‘d’ pence.



John Shellacres of Leziate 1568 - Section 4

Transcription of Original text

Modern English              

                                      Item I geve
to margarit my wife all my houses and
londes lienge in the towne and feldes of Lesiate
howldinge by coppie of corte rowle uppon the
mannours of glostrope Wikinhall and Welhale
Duringe the terme of hir life and after hir
discease I will the saide houses and londes
shall remayne unto thomas shelacar my
                         Item – I give
to Margaret, my wife all my houses and
lands lying in the town and fields of Leziate3,
holdings in the copies of the Court Roll7 in the
manors of Gasthorpe8 Wiggenhall9 and Welhale10,
during her lifetime and aftr her
death and Will that these house and land
shall go to Thomas Shelacar11my


7 Court Roll – the register of land holdings, etc., of a manorial court.

The land held by John Shellacare of Leziate listed in this Will was known as ‘copyhold tenure’ which was tenure of land according to the custom of the manor. Copies of the tenure are held in the record of the manorial court as “title deeds” listing which land is owned by an individual, who is said to “hold” the land – ‘have tenure’.

In appears John Shellacare held land under what was known as ‘Copyhold of Inheritance’. He would have paid rent to the tenant landholder of the relvant manors and also undertook duties to the Lord. However under this arrangement the land holding would normally pass to their next heir, e.g. the eldest son or eldest daughter if no son existed depending upon the custom of that particular manor. During their life the tenant could usually ‘sell’ the holding to another person by formally surrendering it to the lord of the manor on the condition he then grant s the holding to the ‘buyer’.

This three-party transaction was recorded in the court roll and formed the new ‘copyhold’ for the purchaser.

8 ‘glostrope’ is Glosthorpe is a manor near Leziate.

9 ‘Wikinhall’ is likely to be the village of Wiggenhall located 11 miles south of Kings Lynn on the River Great Ouse.

10 ‘Welhale’ is Wellhall a manor in Gayton. The village no longer exists and is identified on some maps as the ‘Medieval village of Well’ but a Well Hall Farm remains located north of the village of Gayton.

11 Spelling – The different spelling of the son’s surname is not an issue – ‘phonetic spelling’ (writing words as they are sounded) is very common in historical documents.



John Shellacres of Leziate 1568 - Section 5

 End of Page One of the original document

John Shellacres of Leziate 1567 - section 5A

Transcription of Original text

Modern English              

                             Item I will that the saide margarit
my wife shall kepe the foresaide houses in
good and sufficiente reparacions Duringe the
saide terme Item I geve to the saide margarit
my wife two milche nete two bullokes and
one bedde with all thinges belongenge thereunto
one brasse potte one kettell one panne six
peuter platters and two shepe one graye geldi-
nge two swine halfe my p[?ou]ltreye my
bolles and Dishes thre bushels of wheate
thre bushels of rye thre combes of Barlye &
                         Item – I Will that Margaret,
to my wife keep the house already mentioned in
good and sufficient repair during her,
lifetime. Item – I give to my Margaret
my wife, my two milk neats12 (cows), two bullocks and
one bed with all things belonging in the house;
one brass pot, one kettle, one pan, six
pewter plates and two sheep, one grey gelding13,my
two pigs, half my poultry, my
bowls dishes and three bushels14 of Wheat
three bushels of Rye, three combs of Barley15 and
fower skeppes withe bees four skeps 16 with bees


Skep12 Nete – and also ‘neat’, are Middle English words for a bull or a cow. In the instance the word refers to milking cows. (You may be familiar with ‘Neatsfoot oil’ which is an oil rendered and purified from the shin bones and feet of cattle).

13 Gelding – a castrated horse or other equine such as a donkey or a mule.

14 Bushel – at that time a bushel was a measure of capacity for grain. During the Middle Ages, the bushel of wheat was supposed to weigh 64 pounds.

15 Combs of Barley – I believe a comb is measurement of weights. Combs of barley were malted for use in brewing.

16 Skeps – a type of beehive. They are baskets for placed open-end-down, initially they were made from wicker plastered with mud and dung but from the Middle Ages they were made of straw – an example is shown on the right.



John Shellacres of Leziate 1568 - Section 6


Transcription of Original text

Modern English              

                                      Itm I geve unto thomas
shelacare my Sunne fower milche nete two yearing
bullockes [?] one horse one mare two shepe fower
skeppes withe bees to be delivered unto him at the
age of fortene yeares. Item I geve unto the aforesaide
Thomas my sunne all my houses and Londes
lienge in the towne and feldes of geyton welhale
and aliswithtrpe houlden by coppie of courterowle
uppon the mannor of geitons to him and to his
                        Item – I give to Thomas
Shelacare my son, four milk neats (cows), two yearling17
bullocks, one horse, one mare18, two sheep and four
skeps with bees to be delivered to him at the
age of fourteen years19. Item – I give to
Thomas my son, all my houses and lands
lying in the town and fields of Gayton20, Welhale10,
and Aliswithorpe (Gayton Thorpe)21 houlden23 (held) in the copies of the Court Roll7
in the manors of Gayton18 to him and his


17Yearlings – these are animals around one or two years old, which are not fully mature physically and they are considered too young to be breeding stock.

18 Mare – an adult female horse.

19 The Age of the son – It is obvious at the time this Will was written John’s son Thomas has not reach d the age of fourteen therefore his age could be from a few months to 13 years. Consequently we can place Thomas’ birth year between 1554 and 1567.

20 Gayton – a village or an estate three miles east of John Shellacare’s home in the village of Leziate.

21 Aliswithorpe – likely to be another name for GAYTON THORPE four miles east of Leziate.

22 Geitons – possibly another phonetic spelling of the village of Gayton which was spelt ‘geyton’ in this same paragraph.

23 houlden – held (by copy of court roll, i.e. copyhold tenure).

Next Page: Further details of the Will of John Shellacare