The Will of John Ackland Esquire of Ackland

Date of will: 5 October 1553

Transcribed by Debbie Kennett

John ACLAND was the grandson of John ACKELANDE Esquire of Landkey whose will was proved in April 1539. A transcription of this will has been published on the Landkey page of Genuki where the problems of the discrepancies in the early part of the ACLAND pedigree are discussed. John ACLAND had not yet reached his "full aidge of xxi yeris" when his grandfather's will was written on 3rd September 1538. He was however appointed administrator of the estate in April 1539 so it is presumed that by this time he had reached the age of majority. It would therefore appear that he was born around 1518 and that he died at the relatively young age of 36 years, probably living for his entire life at the family home of Acland Barton in Landkey. There is a magnificent portrait of John ACLAND in the family collection which is reproduced in Anne ACLAND's book "A Devon Family: The Story of the Aclands". The precise date of the sitting is not known but John appears as an elegant young man in his late twenties or early thirties with finely chiselled features, opulently dressed in a voluminous fur-collared coat. The portrait has two inscriptions "John Acland of Acland 1554" and "Aetatis suae 4 1554" both of which were probably added after his death. John ACLAND married Margaret, the daughter and coheir of Hugh RADCLIFF of Stepney and the Middle Temple. She bore him four children: Hugh, John, Gertrude and Dorothy. The eldest son, Hugh ACLAND, remained all his life at Acland Barton. He married Margaret MONK, by whom he had one son, Arthur. The younger son, John ACLAND, became a well known politician and benefactor who gained much wealth by his marriages to two wealthy widows. He settled at Broadclyst in south Devon, where he bought the manor of Columb John. He died childless and his estate passed briefly to his brother Hugh. Hugh was succeeded by his grandson John who established Killerton as the principal residence of the ACLAND family and later became the First Baronet of Columb John.

This transcription of John ACKLAND's will is taken from Olive MOGER's typewritten manuscript "Transcript of Devonshire wills, 1600-1800". This volume was compiled some time before the Second World War and is now held at the West Country Studies Library in Exeter. The original will has not survived. It was one of the many Devon wills lost during the blitz of 1942 when the Probate Registry in Exeter was bombed by the Germans.

Proved 1 June 1554 in the Consistory Court of the Bishop of Exeter, by the executrix named in the will.

In the name of God amen.

The 5th daye of October in the yere of or. Lord god 1553 & in the first yere of the raigne of our Soveraigne Lady Mary &c., I John Ackland Esquier of Ackland within the parishe of Landkey in the Countie of Devon & diocese of Exeter, being of good memory &c. make my testament in form following, that is to say:

First I commend my sowle to almighty god my maker & Redeemer & my body to be buried within the parishe churche of Landkey aforesaid.

Item, I bequeath to every of my two daughters Dorothe & Gartrude two hundred markes to be leveyed perceived and taken of all my landes tenements rents & hereditaments to be paid to them at theire maryage and yf yt happen my sd. two daughters or one of them to decese before they shall be maryed, then I bequeath there [sic] or her parte of them or one of the so deceasing to Margarett my wiff.

Item I will & my mynde is that John Ackland my son shall have all the barton land & tenement of my manor of Hauckeworthy1 and all that my tenement in Est Downe called Endecott in the Countie of Devon which one Slee noew [sic] of me there holdeth to have and to hold the same premises with the appurtenances to the sd. John Ackland my son & to that woman whom he shall take to wiff & to such childe as shall first be between them lawfully begotten for term of there lyves & of every of them longest lyving yelding therefore to my heires all seche rents services and other charge as shall [have] bin usually paid for the same & for the more perfect assurance of the premises to be had to the said John my son in manner & form aforesaid.

I charge myne heyre to seale and deliver him a sufficient writing indented of the leasse of the premises to be made in such forme and according to my intent as I thereat have before declared provided always if John my son shall have & enjoy bargaine which Sir Hugh Pollard, Knight, did give & grant to him then he shall not have the sd. tenement in Est Down which the said Slye there holdeth.

Then I give to Edmund my servant for his good service done to me the reversion of my tenement in Charles called Stocke which one Brydwycke there holdeth in the right of Emott his wiff dewring his life to have and hold the said tenement for terme of his life by all such rents services charge and conditions as the said Brydwycke ought & hath accustomed to yield and do in the right of his sd. wiff.

Item I bequeath to Robert Rye xxs. [£1]

I bequeath to Harry Moune xxs. [£1]

Item I will that Redwood shall have the tenements which Harry Ellys holdeth after his decease for term of life by suche like rents and service as the sd. Harry Ellys there now beareth.

Item I give to William Raynell xxs. with his wayge.

Item I give Joan xxs. with her wayge.

Item I will that my heyre shall have such plate as I had by the death of my grandfather & that Sir John Chichester knight shall have the keeping of the sd. plate immediately after my death until myne heyre shall come to his full age.

Item I bequeath to Agnes Wyatt xxs. with her wage.

Item I give to John Pope iijs iiijd.

Item to George Alen iijs iiijd.

The residue of all my goods and cattals before not bequeathed I holy give & bequeath [sic] to Margaret my wiff whom I make & ordeyne and constitute my sole exx. of my present last will and testament these being witnesses:- Anthony Ackland, Robert Raymond, William Hunacote & others.

[From Book 2 of the Consistorial Court of the Bishop of Exeter, p.91]

Further reading

Acland, Anne. A Devon Family: The Story of the Aclands. London and Chichester: Phillimore, 1981.

Wolffe, Mary. 'Acland, Sir John (c.1552-1620)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.

Prince, John. 'Sir John Ackland Knight'. In: Danmonii Orientales Illustres or The Worthies of Devon. London: Printed for Rees and Curtis, Plymouth; Edward Upham Exeter; and Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme, London, 1810, pp1-6. (Published on CD by Archive CD Books.)

[1] Hackworthy is a manor in the parish of Tedburn St Mary.