The Last Will and Testament of Robert Ellis

A bastardy order from 1828, referring to an illegitimate son (Walter) of John Hitch Ellis: this led Robert Ellis to add a codicil to his will.

Introduction

The Ellis family were major landowners in Cambridgeshire for several centuries.  In Meldreth, the family spanned six generations and had a significant influence on the religious, social and political affairs of the village for over 200 years.

One of the first members of the family to be born in Meldreth was Robert Ellis (1751-1828). He and his wife Sarah had the following children: Robert, John Hitch (1780-1862) and Charlotte, who are all mentioned in his will.

Note

Whilst every attempt has been made to transcribe the will accurately, MLHG accepts no responsibility for any errors. For complete accuracy, we advise downloading a copy of the original will from the National Archives site, ref. PROB-11-1744-129.

The Will

This is the last Will & Testament
of me Robert Ellis of Meldreth in the county of Cambridge, farmer. First I give and
bequest all my two Cottages or Tenements with the orchard and allotment thereto belonging, containing about two acres, situated at or near North End in Meldreth aforesaid, now in
the occupation of Thurley William Waller and myself, unto and to the use of my
son Robert Ellis for and during the term of his natural life, and after the determination of
that Estate by and means in his lifetime. Then to the use of my son John Hitch Ellis
and his heirs during the natural life of my said son Robert Ellis, in trust for the said
Robert Ellis and his assigns, and by the usual ways and means to preserve the contingent
remainders hereinafter limited, and after the decease of the said Robert Ellis, to the use
of the first son of the body of the said Robert Ellis, lawfully begotten, and the heirs
male of the body of such first son lawfully issuing, and in default of such issue
to the use of the second, third, fourth and all and every of his son and sons of the
body of the said Robert Ellis, severally, successively and in remainder one after the
other as they respectively shall be in priority of birth, and the several and respective
heirs male of the body or several and respective bodies of the same Son and Sons
respectively lawfully issuing every older of the same Sons and the heirs male of this
body issuing being always to be preferred, and to take before any younger of the same Sons
and in the heirs male of his body issuing and in failure of such issue then to the use of
my grandson John Ellis Stockbridge, the son of my daughter Charlotte, the wife of a
William Stockbridge, and the heirs of the said John Ellis Stockbridge for ever. But
I direct that my said son Robert Ellis and the devisees above mentioned shall
permit and suffer my beloved wife Sarah Ellis to have the enjoyment of the said devised
premises, and to take the rents and profits thereof during the term of her natural life
for their own use and benefit. Also I give and devise all the rest, residue and remainder of
my freehold and copyhold messuages lands, tenements and heredits whatsoever, unto
and to the use of my said son John Hitch Ellis for and during the term of his natural
life. And after the determination of that estate by any means in his lifetime then to the
use of my son Robert Ellis and his heirs during the natural life of my said son John
Hitch Ellis in trust for the said John Hitch Ellis and his assigns, and by the usual ways
and means to preserve the contingent remainders hereinafter limited, and after the decease
of the said John Hitch Ellis to the use of the first son of the body of the said John Hitch
Ellis lawfully begotten, and the heirs of the body of such first son lawfully issuing, and in
default of such issue to the use of the second, third, fourth and all and every other son
and sons of the body of the said John Hitch Ellis severally, successively and in
remainder one after the other as they respectively shall be in priority of birth, and the
several and respective heirs of the body or several and respective bodies of the same
son and sons respectively lawfully issuing every elder of the same sons and the heirs
of his body issuing being always to be preferred and to take before any younger of the
same sons and the heirs of his body issuing, and on failure of such issue then to the use
of all and every the daughters and daughter of the body of my said son John Hitch Ellis in
tail and if more than one, to be divided between them in equal shares as tenants in common
with cross remainders among them in tail, and if all such daughters save one shall
be without issue or there shall be but one such daughter then to the use of such in
remaining or only daughter in tail, and for default of such I put to the use of my said son
Robert Ellis and his heirs for ever. But I direct that my said son John Hitch Ellis
and the devisees above mentioned shall permit and suffer my said beloved wife Sarah
Ellis to have the enjoyment of the said last above devised premises and to take the rents
and profits thereof during the term of her natural life, for her own use and benefit. Also I
give and bequeath unto my said beloved wife Sarah Ellis all my stock of wines, beer, spirits,
liquors and provisions which shall be in and about my dwelling house at my decease and
also all my household goods, furniture, plate, linen, china, books, pictures and glass and all the
paraphernalia for her own use and benefit. Also I give and bequeath unto my son John
Hitch Ellis and my friend Mr Joseph Stockbridge, their executors and advisors, the several
sums of five hundred pounds and one hundred pounds of lawful money upon trust, to lay
out and invest the said sums in government or real securities, at interest, in their names
immediately from and after my decease, and to vary and transfer the said securities and to
pay and apply the interest and dividends and yearly proceeds of the said sums unto my
said son John Hitch Ellis, during the natural life of my said beloved wife for his own
use and from and immediately after the decease of my said wife then upon trust to
pay the interest dividends and yearly proceeds of the said son of five hundred pounds
when and as the same shall be received unto such person or persons and for such purposes
only as my said daughter Charlotte Stockbridge, notwithstanding her present or any future
coverture, shall by any writing signed by her when and as the same interest and
dividends shall become payable, but not by way of anticipation appoint and in default of
such appointment into her own hands for her separate use independent of her present or
any after taken husband and so as that the same may not be subject to his control debts or
engagements. And I declare that the receipts of my said daughter shall be a sufficient
discharge for the same interest and dividends, and after the decease of my said daughter
in trust for all and every or such out or more exclusively of the children of my said
daughter in such manner with such provisions for their respective maintenance and
education and if more than one such child in such shares and proportions as my said
daughter respectively by her last Will and Testament to be by her signed and published
in the presence of and attested by two or more witnesses, shall from time to time direct or appoint
and in default of appointment of the same under the power herein before
contained or so far as such appointment shall not extend, and subject to the trust herein
before declared of the same upon trust for all and every the child and children of
my daughter, who being a son or sons shall attain the age of twenty one years, or
being a daughter or daughters shall attain that age or marry, equally to be divided
between or amongst them if more than one share and share alike, and if but one
such child then to such child and in case all the children of my said daughter, being a son or sons, shall die under the age of twenty one years, and being a daughter or
daughters shall die under that age and without being married then and in such case
and in default of appointment respectively as aforesaid, in trust that my said trustees
or the survivor of them, or the executors or admons of such survivor, do and shall stand
possessed of and be interested in the said five hundred pounds, and the stocks, funds and
securities in which the same is invested in trust for such person or persons, in such share
and proportions and in such manner and form as such daughter shall be her last Will
and Testament in writing to be by her executed and attested in such manner as aforesaid
direct, limit or appoint, and for want of such direct limitation or appointment and as direction, limitation or appointment, and for want of such direction, limitation or appointment and as to
so much or such part whereof no such direction limitation or appointment shall be made upon
Trust for the next of kin of my said daughter according to the statute of distributions
and as to the said sum of one hundred pounds upon Trust that my said Trustees shall
immediately after the decease of my said beloved wife pay the same sum of one hundred
pounds unto my granddaughter Elizabeth Ellis Stockbridge for her own use and benefit
and I forgive and release and bequeath unto my son in law William Stockbridge all
sum and sums of money which he may owe or stand indebted to me at my decease
also I give and bequeath all the residue of my monies, securities, stocks, funds, mortgages,
personal estate and effects whatever, unto my said son John Hitch Ellis, his executors and
admons, subject to the payment of my just debts, funeral and testamentary expenses and
to the investment and payment of the legacies herein before bequeathed, and I give and
devise unto my said son John Hitch Ellis and his heirs all estates vested in me as a
trustee for any other person or persons whomsoever. To hold the same unto my said
son John Hitch Ellis and his heirs upon and for such and the same trusts ends, intents and purposes as the same estates maybe held by me and lastly I do hereby nominate
constitute and appoint my said son John Hitch Ellis sole executor this my will and
hereby revoking all wills at any time heretofore made by me do hereby declare this to be
my last will and testament. In witness thereof I the said Robert Ellis, the Testator,
have to this my last will and testament contained on four sheets of paper to the first
three sheets thereof set my hand and to this the fourth and last sheet my hand
and seal this third day of September in the year of our Lord 1822 – Robert Ellis – Signed
sealed published and declared by the said Robert Ellis 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 the words
“of the body” being first interlined in the last line of the first sheet the interlocution
in the third sheet being first made.
J. P. Wedd- Thos. Pickering- Chas. Stokes, clerk to Messrs Nash & Wedd solicitors Royston.

THIS IS A CODICIL to be annexed to and taken as part
of the last will and testament of me Robert Ellis of Meldreth in the county of Cambridge
farmer, bearing date the third Day of September 1822. I revoke the bequest to my
beloved wife Sarah Ellis of my household goods, furniture, plate, linen china, books,
pictures and glass and in lieu thereof I bequeath the use benefit and enjoyment of
the said household goods , furniture, plate, linen china, books, pictures and glass to
my said beloved wife for her life and after her decease I give and bequeath the same to
my granddaughter Elizabeth Ellis Stockbridge, her executors, and admons, also I revoke the
legacies of five hundred pounds and one hundred pounds by my said will bequeathed to
John Hitch Ellis and Joseph Stockbridge in trust for my daughter Charlotte Stockbridge
and her children and my granddaughter Elizabeth Ellis Stockbridge, and in lieu thereof
direct that the said Charlotte Stockbridge shall have the use, occupation and enjoyment
during her life as tenant to my said son John Hitch Ellis, but free from rent, of all
those two messuages or tenements now in the occupation of [blank] Read and [blank]
Pateman with the schoolroom, barn and land thereto belonging and I direct that if
any of her children shall be under the age of 21 years at her decease, such
children shall have the like use and enjoyment of the said premises until the youngest
of them shall attain the age of 21 years, in order to maintain and bring them
up. I also give and bequeath to the said Charlotte Stockbridge one clear annuity or yearly
sum of twenty pounds commencing immediately from my decease and to be paid quarterly
during her life and if any of her children shall be under the age of 21 years
at her I decease I direct that the said annuity shall continue to be paid and be applied
in and towards the maintenance and education of such children until her youngest
child shall attain that age. I charge the said annuity and the legacies hereby
bequeathed on the estate by my said Will devised to my said son John Hitch Ellis
and his heirs in aid of my personal estate, and I direct that the annuitants shall
have the same powers of distress and entry as if the said annuity was a rent reserved
to them upon a demise for years of the said premises and in lieu of the said hereby
invested legacy of one hundred pounds by the said will bequeathed to my granddaughter
Elizabeth Ellis Stockbridge. I bequeath to the said Elizabeth Ellis Stockbridge the
sum of Three hundred and fifty pounds of lawful money to be paid to her on her attaining
the age of 21 years or marriage and I direct that the interest thereof at five
pounds per centum per annum commencing from my decease shall in the meantime be
paid and applied for her maintenance, and I request that the said Elizabeth Ellis Stockbridge
shall live in my dwelling house in the manner that she now does with my said wife as long
as the said Elizabeth Ellis Stockbridge shall remain single and unmarried, and I direct
that in case that my son John Hitch Ellis shall at any time after my decease intermarry with
Sarah Chappel of Meldreth, spinster, or live in a state of [?] with her he
shall thereupon immediately pay twenty pounds apiece to all the children of my said
daughter Charlotte Stockbridge except her said son John and her said daughter the
said Elizabeth Ellis Stockbridge and in all other respects I ratify, confirm and establish
my said will and declare this to be a Codicil thereto. In witness whereof I the said Robert
Ellis have to this Codicil contained in two sheets of paper set my hand and seal, that is to
say my hand to the first sheet and my hand and seal to this second and last sheet this
seventh day of June in the year of our Lord 1828. Robert Ellis – Signed sealed,
published and declared by the said Robert Ellis the testator as and for a Codicil to 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 subscribed our names as witnesses the names hereto the four interlocutions in the first sheet being first made.
J. P. Wedd, Royston- John Clemmons – James Wing of Meldreth.
PROVED at London (with a codicil) 8th August 1828 before the judge by the oath of
John Hitch Ellis the son the sole executor to whom admon was granted being first sworn (by commission) duly to administer.

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