Hewish v. Hewish, 12 May 1772
Court of Chancery: Six Clerks Office: Pleadings 1758 to 1800
Woodford and Kipling Division
National Archives C12/1251/63
This case is more complicated than appears from the bill. Though it is nowhere mentioned, the debate as to who had rights to the property (Saunders Tenement) appears to have arisen because William Hewish (the father) who held said property, was murdered by his son, William Hewish (the younger). The son then took out Letters of Administration, rather speedily, before he was arrested. He was tried for the murder of both his parents, but only convicted of that of his father, and executed at Heavitree on April 2nd 1753. (Report in 'The Western Flying Post or Sherbourne and Yeovil Mercury' of 1753.) John Hewish, the father of Abraham & Andrew, was the brother of the murdered William, and this may explain his unwillingness to carry out the wishes of his nephew. It may be that the will of a person executed for murder, when they have inherited from the victim, is not legally viable anyway, but there is apparently no response to this bill. The family may have finally settled the matter out of court, because by 1782 (ten years after this, but the first year of surviving Land Tax records,) Andrew is in possession of Saunders.
(Note that the year dates in the bill are inconsistent - William the elder is said to have died in January 1755, and his son takes out the Letters in 1753, then dies in 1755. The correct date for all is 1753.)
According to Jenkin's 1806 History of Exeter: "1752 An act was this year passed for the more speedy execution of murderers & delivering their bodies to the surgeons to be anatomised. The first person to be executed on this act in Exeter was Mr Huish, a gentleman of some fortune, who had served an apprenticeship in this city with Mr Arundel, a capital serge maker; but turning out very wild, and undutiful to his parents (who lived at Cheriton Fitzpayne) he was accused of poisoning his father, and beating his mother to death; the first of these crimes he was acquitted of, on his trial but found guilty of the second, for which he was executed at Heavitree gallows; and his body sent to the Devon & Exeter Hospital, where it was anatomised: his bones remained there in the cupola for many years (a striking example to all parricides) until they moldered into dust."
Note: I have not altered anything, where there are spaces (as in the opening paragraph) there really are blanks, where there are xxxx there are crossings out. The only word I could not read was between 'followeing' and 'and fradulant' (it was in a completely different hand,) and this is why there are dashes there. The underline symbols are present in the document.
To the Right Honourable Henry Lord Apsley Barron of Apsley in the County of Sussex Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain.
Humbly complaining sheweth unto your Lordship your orator Andrew Hewish of Cherriton fitz payne in the County of Devon That John Harris esquire of Hayne in the said County now deceased being seized in fee or of some other good estate of Inheritance of a Certain Tenement commonly called or known by the name of Saunders' Tenement lyeing in the parrish of Cherriton fitz payne aforesaid and in the said County of Devon Leased the same by his Indenture bearing date on or about the Day of in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and for the Consideration therein expressed to William Hewish of Cherriton fitz payne aforesaid yeoman for ninety nine years Determinable on three lives of which three lives one of them is now only X Liveing called Abraham Hewish and your orator further sheweth to your Lordship that the said William Hewish dyed in or about the Month of January in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven hundred and fifty five possessed of and Intitled to the said Lease of the said Estate Intestate and that his son William Hewish of Cherriton fitz payne aforesaid yeoman took out Letters of Administration to the effects of his said deceased father and thereby became Intitled to the legal Interest of and in the said Estate and took possession thereof and the said William Hewish the son being so intitled to and in possession of the said estate he by his Deed dated the Twenty seventh day of February One Thousand Seven Hundred and fifty three for the consideration therein expressed Granted and Assigned the said Lease and the said Tenement and all the right and Interest which his said father or himself had in the said Estate (amongst other things) To his Cousin Germans Abraham Hewish and your said Orator their Executors Administrators & Assigns In Trust to permit the said William Hewish the son, To Enjoy the said Estate for so many years as he should live and after his Decease In Trust for the said Abraham Hewish and your Orator (his Cousins Germans) their Executors Administrators & Assigns But subject to a power of Revocation by the said William Hewish the son And your Orator sheweth that the said William Hewish the son dyed on or about April in the said year One Thousand Seven Hundred and fifty five without having ever Revoked the uses of the said deed By which means and by virtue of which deed your said Orator Apprehends that his Cousins Germans the said Abraham Hewish and your Orator became Intitled to the said Estate for the Term Aforesaid as Joynt tenants of the same But your Orator further sheweth that John Hewish of Cherriton fitz payne aforesaid the father of the said Cousins Germans Abraham Hewish and your Orator Immediately on the death of the said William Hewish the son got possession of the said Deed and of the said Estate and held the same to the day of his Death which was on or about the fifteenth day of November One Thousand Seven Hundred and sixty six And your Orator sheweth further to your Lordship That he the said John Hewish their father would never lett the said Abraham the Cousins German nor your Orator have any sight of the said Deed Tho' with Tears in their Eyes they often prayed to have a sight of it It having been publickly Surmised that the said Abraham Hewish and your Orator (the Cousins Germans) had some right to the Estate But he the said John always denyed to lett either of them see the same for the said Deed having Charged the said estate with the payment of Thirty pounds which was due from the said William Hewish the son to the Reverend Arthur Harris Rector of Cheriton fitz payne Aforesaid and the said John Hewish haveing paid this Thirty pounds John's Answer and excuse for not letting them see the Deed or having anything to do with the Estate Constantly was that as he had paid this Thirty pounds he must and would keep the Estate until he had repaid himself that Thirty pounds with its Interest And your Orator further Sheweth that their father John Hewish thus keeping them in Ignorance of as to their Right to this estate by refuseing to lett them see the Deed and thus keeping possession of the said estate dyeing on or about the fifteenth day of November One Thousand Seven Hundred and sixty six as aforesaid by his will bequeathed All his Substance to Edward Hewish Esq. of Cherriton fitz payne aforesaid and to your said Orator But Intrust for Sarah Wife of William Wotton of Cherriton fitz payne aforesaid and Mary Wellington of the same Widow the daughters of the said John Hewish And that they the said William Wotton and Sarah his Wife and the said Mary Wellington have by virtue of the said Will ever since the death of the said John possessed and enjoyed the said estate merely by means and on account of your Orators being kept quite Ignorant of his Real title to the same by the followeing ------------- and fraudulent Management and Contrivance of the late William Bellew of Storkley English in the County aforesaid Esq. and the said Edward Hewish for your Orator sheweth unto your Lordship that when your Orators said father John died the said Edward Hewish who was a Co. Trustee of his said father's Will with your said Orator was in Cornwall and at a considerable distance from the place where the said John Hewish dyed which the said William Bellew being sensible of he directly on the death of the said John took possession of all the deeds and papers which the said John dyed possessed of examined them Carefully, found the said Deed amongst others and got it into his own Custody and tho'often requested by your said orator to deliver it to him or to lett him have a sight of it yet the said William Bellew always refused to grant him either of his Requests But on the Contrary Assoon as the said Edward Hewish returned from Cornwall he surrendered the said Deed to him who also kept it up Close and Concealed from your said orator and would never lett him see it nor would he ever discover the Contents of the same to him tho' your Orator hath often requested him so to do But on the Contrary the said Edward Hewish not only kept the contents of this deed a secret from your said Orator But actually as a Co-Trustee with the said Edward Hewish he prevailed on your Orator to joyn with him on a Lease of the said Estate To the said William Wotton for the Term of Seven or fourteen years at the Will of the said William Wotton and at the Yearly rent of Twelve pounds and Twelve shillings payable to the said Edward Hewish and your Orator however your Orator Sheweth further unto your Lordship that on or about the Sixth day of September One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy and about two years after your Orator had joyned in the said Lease The said Edward Hewish did shew to your Orator the said Deed and Acquainted him with the Contents thereof, and then or soon after another Estate Contained in the said Deed and limited to the same uses with Saunders's tenement was delivered up to your said orator by the said Edward Hewish as the Surviving joynt Tenant your Orators said brother Abraham dyeing before the decease of his said father John, and your Orator further sheweth that Assoon as he was acquainted with the Contents of the said Deed and with the Right he had to the said estate called Saunders's Tenement hath applied to the said William Wotton and Sarah his said Wife and the said Mary Wellington and the said Edward Hewish to come to an Account with your said orator for all the rents Issues and profits which they or either of them have Received or might have had and received from the said estates They some or one of them having been in possession of the same from the death of his said father John, And also he hath often applied to and requested the said William Wotton and Sarah his Wife Mary Wellington and Edward Hewish to yield and surrender up to your Orator the said Lease and the possession of the said Estate they haveing Obtained and Extorted the same by a fraudulent Contrivance to keep your said Orator in Ignorance of his haveing any right or Title to the said Estate But they the said William Wotton and Sarah his Wife and Mary Wellington and Edward Hewish Combineing and Confederateing with diverse other persons to your Orator unknown and whose names when discovered your Orator prays may be inserted in this his Bill with apt words to Charge them how to defeat and defraud your Orator have all xx of them Constantly and peremptorily refused to Grant him of these Requests or to lett him have a quiet possession of the estate tho' he hath also frequently desired them so to do But they still keep possession of the same and to justify these great Injuries done to your Orator the said William Wotton and Sarah his Wife and Mary Wellington insist on it That their said father John had Notwithstanding the said deed a Right by his Will to Bequeath the said estate to the said Sarah Wotton and Mary Wellington in the manner he hath done and therefore they have a Right to the Rents and profits and to the possession of the said Estate without being accountable to your said Orator for the same and the said Edward Hewish Doth deny he hath had or Received any Rents of profits of the said Estate or if he hath received any he hath paid them over to the said William Wotton and Sarah his Wife and Mary Wellington who he Insists have a right to the same and he also Insists that your Orator with himself being made Joynt Trustees of the Will of the said John the father They had a right to make the said Lease of the said Estate to the said William Wotton and doth advise and persuade the said William Wotton not to surrender up the said Lease or to give possession of the said Estate to your said Orator All which pretences Actings and Doeings are Contrary to Equity and good Conscience and tend to your Orator great wrong and apparent Injury In tender consideration whereof and for as much as your Orator hath no way or means whereby to discover the Truth of the premises but by the Corporal Oath of the said Confederates and the rather for that your Orators Witnesses are either dead or beyond the Seas or in places Remote and to your Orator unknown so that your Orator is Altogether remediless in the premises at and by the Strict Rules of the Comon Law of this Kingdom and only Believable before your Lordship in this honourable Court where frauds and Cases of this nature are properly relieveable and determineable To the end therefore that the said William Wotton and Sarah his Wife and Mary Wellington and Edward Hewish may upon their respective Corporal Oaths hue and perfect Answer make To all and singular the said premises herein before Setforth as fully as if the same were here again repeated and Interrogated and more especially that they may all upon their respective Corporal Oaths setforth to the best of their knowledge Remembrance Information and belief Whether the said John Harris was seized in fee or of what other Estate of Inheritance in the said Tenement so demised to the said William Wotton as aforesaid and commonly called or known by the name of Saunders's Tenement where it lies and if he Granted any and what Lease of the same and when to the said William Hewish and if depending on lives If all or any and which of them are living When did the said William Hewish die, and did he die possessed of and Intitled to the said estate and did he die Intestate or did he die make any and what will and of what date If on his death he left a son called William Hewish and if he took out Letters of Administration to the personal Estate of his said father and possessed himself of the said Estate called Saunders's and if the said William Hewish the son did by any and what Deed and of what date and for what Consideration Grant and assign the said Lease of the said Estate and his right to the said Estate To the said Abraham Hewish and your said Orator his cousin Germans or to any other and what person and persons What are the material Contents and substance of the said Deed and who are the Witnesses thereto and who hath had the custody of the same from the death of the said John Hewish the father and in whose Custody is it now and in whose Custody was the said Deed from the death of the said William Hewish the son to the death of the said John the father If it was in his Custody Did your said Orator or his said Brother Abraham or either and which of them ever and how often when and where and in what manner and in whose presence desire or Implore the said John to give them or one and which of them a sight of the said Deed and did he always refuse to lett them see it or did he at any time and when and where permit them or either and which of them to see the same And did the said John keep possession of the said estate and Receive the rents and profits thereof and for how long time And did he ever give any person or persons and whome by name any reason or pretended excuse for keeping possession of the said Estate and for refusing to let your said Orator or the said Abraham his Brother to see the Contents of the said Deed _ Did he pretend he had paid any and what sum to the said person Harris and that he would detain the Estate till he had repaid himself and was this sum a debt due from the said William Hewish the son as Administrator to his said father William to the said person Harris and was it or was it not a Charge on the said Estate When did the said John Hewish dye and did he dye possessed of this Estate and did he leave any will behind him if so what are the material Contents thereof, of what date is it, who are the Witnesses thereto and in whose Custody is the same If your Orator and the said Edward Hewish or who else are made Trustees therein for this Estate or who else And if the Trust was for the benefit of the said Sarah Wotton and Mary Wellington or who else Who hath possessed the said Estate from the death of the said John the father and have or hath received the Rents and profits thereof And how much do they yearly and in the whole amount to who took possession of the Deeds and writeings of the said John the father on his death and how long after it Whether the said William Bellew or who else and if the said Deed thereby come into his Custody and if he was at any Time and when and in whose presence requested by your said Orator to see the said Deed, and if he did or did not lett him see it and if he refused it did he make any and what excuse for so doeing _ and did the said William Bellew deliver over to the said Edward Hewish or to any other persons whome and when the said deed and if the said Edward Hewish was ever desired by your Orator to see the said Deed, how often, when and where And if he refused it and for what reason If he ever lett your Orator have a Sight of it before he the said Edward Hewish and your Orator Granted a Lease of the said estate to the said William Wotton where was that Lease made for what Term, what rent, and to whome to be paid If the said Edward Hewish did after the said Lease Lett your Orator see the said Deed why did he refuse to lett him see it before that time, and why did he afterwards permit him to see it If all the said Confederates do not know that his said brother Abraham is dead and when did he die If the said Edward Hewish can Assign any and what reason for his prevailing on your Orator to joyn in the said Lease to the said William Wotton If another Estate and by what name Included in the said Deed is not Delivered up to your Orator and by whome and if your Orator hath not the same right to Saunders's Tenement as to that_ And that the said William Wotton and Sarah his Wife and Mary Wellington and Edward Hewish may come to a fair account with your Orator for all the Rents and profits they have received for Saunders's Tenement and pay over the same to him and deliver up to him the Quiet possession of the said Estates and also the said Lease and Deed of Assignment of the same and also the said Lease of the said Estate Granted by your said orator and said Edward Hewish to the said William Wotton And that your Orator may have such further and other Releif in the said premises as is Consistent with Equity and good Conscience _ May it please your Lordship to grant unto your Orator his Majesties most gracious Writ of Subpena to be directed unto William Wotton and Sarah his Wife Mary Wellington and Edward Hewish and every of them thereby Commandeing them and every of them at a Certain day and under a Certain pain therein to be limitted to be and personally to appear before the Rules of Equity and good Conscience And your Orator as in Duty sound shall ever pray and so forth