The Will of John Cruwys of Cruwys Morchard (1656-1711)
2 February 1712
© Crown Copyright
National Archives Catalogue Reference PROB 11/525,
Records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, Barnes Quire Numbers: 1 - 45
Transcribed by Debbie Kennett
John CRUWYS was born on 12th August 1656 in Cruwys Morchard. He was the only surviving child of Henry CRUWYS and Dorothy JERMYN, his sister Dorothy and his brother Henry both having died in infancy. He was still a minor when he succeeded his father as Lord of the Manor of Cruwys Morchard in 1668. John married Sara FOOTE, the daughter of Samuel FOOTE, MP for Tiverton, on 12th October 1682. A marriage licence was granted on 11th October 1682 but no record of the marriage has yet been found in the Devon parish registers. John CRUWYS kept a diary from 1682 to 1688. The original diary is in the family collection of records at Cruwys Morchard House but Margaret CRUWYS has published a verbatim transcription1 which provides a fascinating insight into the life of a seventeenth-century country squire, the state of his marriage and his business ventures including a trip to Holland to promote his "designe of trade in ye Company of ye merchants Adventurers of England Called the Hamborough Company". In 1690 John CRUWYS was Receiver General for Poll Tax in the county of Devon. He died of smallpox in 1711 while staying with his friend Mr HATCH at Aller, South Molton. He was buried at the Church of the Holy Cross, Cruwys Morchard, on 11th December 1711. His will was proved in London on 2nd February 1712. John CRUWYS and Sarah FOOTE had ten children: Dorothy, Samuel, John, Henry, William, Stephen, Matthias, Mary, Elizabeth and Bridget. Two of their daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, died in infancy. The eldest son, Samuel, succeeded his father as Lord of the Manor.
In the Name of God Amen: I John Cruwys of Cruwysmorchard in the County of Devon Esqr being at the present but weak in body but of perfect and sound understanding (blessed be God for it) and not knowing how it will please God to dispose of me whether for life or death but wholly submitting myself to his blessed will and humbly with hearty sorrow for my Sins Recommending my Soul to the hands of my gracious God trusting for Salvation by and through the Merits of the death and passion of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and being minded to settle some things concerning the Estate wherewith it hath pleased God to intrust me doe for that purpose make this my last Will and Testament in manner following thereby revoking and annulling all former Wills be me made Imprimis2 Whereas I have settled my Mannor and others Lands in Cruwysmorchard aforesaid and Templeton in consideration of my Marriage with my now Wife I doe hereby ratify the said Settlement according to the tenor and fine intent thereof and whereas my said Mannor and other Lands in Cruwysmorchard and Templeton aforesaid are charged with a Term of five hundred years for raising the summ of fifteen hundred pounds of lawfull money of England in case I should dye leaving issue Male of my body begotten on the body of my now Wife born in my life time or in Ventre Sa Mere3 at the time of my death who shall attain the age of Twenty one years and one or more younger or other Child or Children of my body likewise begotten on the body of my said now wife in my lifetime or in Ventre Sa Mere at the time of my death to be equally divided and distributed amongst and paid unto such younger or other Child or Children at their respective Ages of Twenty one years or days of marriage which should first happen And whereas God hath been pleased to bless me with Six Sons and two Daughters now living whereby a further Provision for them than is appointed by the said Settlement is become necessary Now my Will is and I doe hereby give and devise the summ of Eighteen hundred pounds of lawfull money of England unto such younger or other child or children as I shall leave behind me of my body begotten on the body of my said now Wife or in Ventre Sa Mere at the time of my death (other than my Eldest Son) to be equally divided amongst and paid unto them respectively as they and every of them shall respectively attain the Age of Twenty one years or bee married which shall first happen And I doe hereby further order and appoint that my Executor herein after named doe accordingly pay off and discharge the said sume of Eighteen hundred pounds and my Will further is that all and every such of my said younger and other Child or Children aforesaid shall have the interest and produce arising and coming of and from each and every of their respective Shares and Dividends aforesaid of the said sume of Eighteen hundred pounds towards their maintenance and Education provided always and it is my Will and meaning that if either of my said younger or other Child or Children aforesaid shall happen to dye before they respectively shall attain to the Age of Twenty one years or be married that then the right share and portion of him or her soe dying shall not goe to the Executors or Administrators of such parties soe dying but the same shall redound to and accrew by way of increase to such of them as shall be the Survivour and Survivours of them equally to be distributed amongst and paid unto such as shall be the said Survivour or Survivours at their respective Ages of Twenty-one years or days of Marriage which shall first happen if their [sic] shall be one or more such Survivour or Survivours provided also and my Will and meaning is that if any my said younger or other Child or Children as aforesaid hath been or shall be advanced in marriage or otherwise provided for by me in my lifetime that then such Child or Children soe preferred in Marriage or provided for shall abate and deduct out of his Share or portion of the said sume of Eighteen hundred pounds soe much as hath been or shall be laid out upon his her or their advancement in marriage or in other provision for his her or them provided also and it is my further Will and meaning that my son William Cruwys shall be excluded from having any Share or portion of the said sume of Eighteen hundred pounds in case he shall be instituted and inducted into the Rectory and parish Church of Cruwys-morchard aforesaid but his Share and portion which should otherwise have come to him shall redound and accrue to the rest of my said younger or other Child or Children and the Survivour and Survivours of them Item I give unto my daughter Dorothy Cruwys the sume of one hundred pounds of like lawfull mony of England to be paid her shortly after my decease by my Executor herein after named over and above what shall come or fall to her share and portion of the said sum of Eighteen hundred pounds before mentioned and noe deduction or abatement shall be made thereout on Account of any thing herein contained seemingly to the contrary thereof Item my Will and meaning is that if any of my said younger or other Child or Children as aforesaid shall claim any benefitt or advantage out of and from the said sume of ffifteen hundred pounds herein before mentioned to be raised and levied out of my said Mannor and other Lands in Cruwysmorchard and Templeton as aforesaid Provision being made hereby as an Equivalent and in lieu thereof and release all their Right and Interest therein as soon as they shall respectively attaine the Age of Twenty one yeares to him or them unto whom the next and immediate Reversion of the promises shall appertain or belong that then they or either of them soe refusing as aforesaid shall receive noe benefit or property in any Legacy to them or either of them hereby given and bequeathed Item I give unto my dear Wife the sume of one hundred pounds of like lawfull money of England to be paid her shortly after my decease by my Executor herein after named to be taken either in money or Goods at the Election of my said Wife hoping that she will take care of and provide further for my said younger and other Child or Children herein before mentioned Item I give and bequeath unto my Son Samuel Cruwys his Executors and Administrators all my Goods and Chattles Rights and Credits whatsoever And I doe make and ordain him Executor of this my last Will and Testament In Witness whereof to this my last Will and Testament written upon three sheets of paper and each of them signed by me I have putt my hand and Seal this seventeenth day of December in the year of our Lord God One Thousand Seaven hundred and Seaven Jno. Cruwys Signed Sealed and published to be the last Will and Testament of the said John Cruwys the words which or other being first interlined in the first Sheet thereof and the words to one or more said also Provision being made hereby as an Equivalent and in lieu thereof being alsoe interlined in the second Sheet thereof in presence of Wil. Maunder Thos. Haydon
Probatum fuit huiusmodi Testamentum apud London Secundo die mensis February Anno Domini Stylo Anglia millesimo septingentisimo [etc. in Latin]
This will was proved in London on the second day of the month of February in the year of our Lord 1712 by the oath of Samuel Cruwys the executor and son of the deceased name in his will.
I would like to thank Elizabeth Glover Howard for her invaluable advice and assistance.
1 Cruwys, Margaret. The Diary of John Cruwys of Cruwys Morchard (1682-8). Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries, Volume 18, 1934-1935, pp.258-264.
2 In the first place.
3 A child not yet born but in the womb of the mother (from the French "en ventre sa mère").