Wills can be very useful for genealogists but they can have wider interest as well. This one is a case in point. The will is for Joseph Ashley (we just have a transcript) but it mentions other people and gives an idea of the way of life at the time of the will which, in this case, was 1850.
Legal documents are written in their own style, supposed to make sure different interpretations are not possible. It can make reading a bit tricky when there are no clear sentences. We have added a few full stops for this version.
This is the last Will and Testament of Joseph Ashley now living in the employment of Robert Willet Esquire of Fiddington House in the parish of Market Lavington and in the County of Wilts. I give devise and bequeath unto my dear wife Pamela Ashley for the full term of all natural life all those my five freehold houses with all the garden lands and premises situated in the parish of Easterton in the said County of Wilts and all my household furniture plate linen and all other estate and effects whatsoever and wheresoever for her own absolute use and after paying my just debts and my funeral and testamentary expenses. And after the decease of my said dear wife Pamela then I give and devise and bequeath the said five freehold houses with their garden lands and premises to be divided in manner following: that is to say unto my son Joseph Ashley I give devise and bequeath the house in which my dear wife Pamela now resides together with the garden up as far as the little house in the garden and as far as the hedge goes. To my dear daughter Mary Jane Ashley I give and devise and bequeath the first house to as Easton Road which is now in the occupation of Betsy Sraite also one forth part of the top ground. To my dear daughter Amelia Ashley I give devise and bequeath the second house which is now in the occupation of Samuel Meade also one forth part of the top ground. To my dear daughter Ann Ashley I give and devise and bequeath the third house now in the occupation of Mary Draper and also one fourth part of the top ground. To my dear daughter Sarah Ashley I give and devise and bequeath the fourth house now in the occupation of Christopher Biggs and the remaining fourth part of the top ground. And I hereby appoint Mr George Randall baker of Devise in the County of Wilts and my brother James Ashley also of Devise of the County of Wilts to be my executors of this my last will I which whereof I have set my hand and seal this ??? day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty five- Joseph Ashley- Seal signed and published and witnessed as and for his last Will and Testament by the above named testator was in our presence and in the presence of each other ….John Willet, Robert Smith Willet Sept 18 1845
This is to certify that I Joseph Ashley of Easterton do give to my wife Pamela Ashley the sum due to and in the Devises Saving Bank amounting to sixty three pounds ten shillings and two pence with interest due therefore up till this time March 27th 1849 and I call my wife Pamela Ashley and my eldest son George Ashley to witnesses Joseph Ashley concur? George Ashley X mark Pamela Ashley
Appeared Personally Robert Smith Willet of Slough in the County of Middlesex ??? and referring to be the last will and testament of the said Joseph Ashley late of Fiddington parish of Market Lavington in the County of Wilts deceased the said will being….bearing eighteenth day of December one thousand eight hundred and forty five made oath that on the said day that the testator duly executed the said will by signing his name at the end hereof ? In the joint presence of this depounent?? and of John Willet the other subscribed witness thereto both of whom thereupon attended and subscribed the said Will as witnessed of the due execution…being in the presence of the said testator and of each other Robt. Willet on the 10th day of April 1850 the said Robert Smith Willet was duly sworn to the ?of this Affidavit office before me W.G Curtead Surrg. Present Francis? Robucks not. Pub In the presence of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. In the goods of Joseph Ashley deceased. Appeared Personally George Ashley of market Lavington in the County of Wilts Servant and referring to the “codicil of the last Will and testament of the said Joseph Ashley late of Fiddington in the parish of Market Lavington in the County of Wilts deceased the said codicil being now executed ….bearing date the twenty seventh day of March one thousand eight hundred and forty nine made oath that on that said day the said testator duly executed his said Codicil by signing did name at that said thereof in the joint presence of said depounant and of Pamela Ashley the other subscribed witness ….. of whom those upon attested and subscribed the said codicil as witnessed of the due…hereof in the presence of the said testator and of each other -George Ashley- on the 28th day of February 1850 the said George Ashley was duly sworn to the .. of said affidavit by virtue of the award commissioned before me Ed. Phoppes? Commissioner Proved at London with a codicil 16th April 1850 before the Surrg. By the oaths of George Ranbell (written in the Will Randall) and James Ashley the brother the Executors to whom Admon was granted having both first sworn by duly to administrate