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Star Chamber Court pleadings: 1622 (Docton v Docton)

National Archives ref: STAC 8/119/11

Transcribed by David Carter  2019

[Most punctuation, line-spaces and implied letters in brackets have been added by the transcriber. Spelling remains verbatim]

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National Archives Catalogue entry:

Date: 1621 [i.e 1621/22] February: 
Record: Court of Star Chamber: Proceedings, James I
Title: Docton v Docton. 
Plaintiffs: Elizabeth Docton, John Cooke, John Baglehole, Francis Rowe and Thomas Hearde. 
Defendants: Thomas Docton gent of Milford, Thomas Cholwell, Philippa Bishop wife of John Bishop, yeoman of Northam, Henry Keane of Hartland and Henry Brayly clerk of Thomas Docton, deceased. 
Subject: Procuring demises of lands from the said deceased, Thomas Docton, being brother of the said Elizabeth Docton and of the other plaintiffs' mothers, on his death-bed, and forgery of a will disposing of the residue of his estate, he being possessed of the manor of Braynton and messuages, lands, rents and services in Hartland, Welcombe, Woolfardisworthy, Parkham, Abbotsham, Northam, Braunton, Marwood, Bideford, Inwardleigh, Ashwater and Halwill. 
Barnes category: conspiracy; forgery. 
Another action was also brought before the Court of Chancery.

TNA Reference: STAC 8/119/11  
http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C5570684

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Description of documents:

This set of documents consists of a number of pages of legal representations concerning the disagreements about the inheritance of the estate of Thomas Docton (born c.1538, died 15th Nov 1618, buried 18th November 1618 at Hartland).
His wife Alice Docton (nee Atkin) was buried 2nd September 1619.

For transcript of the Wills of Thomas Docton & Alice Docton – see Genuki page for Hartland.

Document 1:
Complaint of Elizabeth Docton, John Cooke, John Baglehole, Francis Rowe and Thomas Hearde.
[This document is duplicated – the original version is at the back of the pinned set of sheets, but a copy (with many abbreviations, and with about 1200 words omitted from the text) is at the front. The following transcript uses both copies to get the fullest and most accurate reading].

Document 2:
Interrogatories to be ministred to Thomas Docton [of Wellisford], defendant.

Document 3:
The examination of Thomas Docton gent [of Wellisford], defendant.

Document 4:
The further answers of Thomas Docton [of Wellisford] to the Bill of Complaint.

Document 5:
The plea of Thomas Docton [of Wellisford], defendant.

Document 6:
The answers of Thomas Cholwell & Henry Brayley.

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Explanation of the case:

Analysis and Interpretation of the documents:

The Background:

Thomas Docton was a lawyer and had a lifetime’s experience in writing legal documents, but had not written his own Will.

He only had one child – a son Nicholas, who died at the age of 36, without issue.
He had one brother (John), but he had died at the age of 45, not known to have married or had issue.
Thomas did have five sisters, four of whom were married with children:
•    John Cooke, eldest son of Thomasine Docton, married to Richard Cooke
•    John Bagelhole, eldest son of Alice Docton, married to Henry(?) Bagelhole
•    Francis Rowe, eldest son of Eme Docton, wife of William Rowe
•    Thomas Heard, eldest son of Agnes Docton, wife of John Heard

The fifth sister (Elizabeth Docton) was described as ‘lame and decrepid’, and had always been cared for by Thomas Docton in his house.

Therefore, Thomas had no direct heirs, although he did have the above four nephews, and the following two first cousins:
•    Thomas Docton (1564-1638) of Wellisford*
•    John Docton (1568-1636)
[*Now Welsford, a farm tenement about 1+half miles east of Docton tenement].

Thomas Docton had inherited many landholdings from his father, in particular the Capital Messuage called ‘Docton’ in the parish of Hartland, from which the earlier Docton family got their name. He had allegedly said that he would leave all these properties to his (above named) nephews on his death.

The Complaynants case and evidence:

Alice Docton (wife of Thomas) seems to have fallen out with her husband’s nephews, and wished to disinheirit them from any of her husband’s estate. Given that her husband had not made a Will, she plotted with others to get him to make the Will that she wanted, in order that first-cousin Thomas Docton of Wellisford would inherit.

Alice had a friend in Thomas Cholwell (1570-1642), who lived close-by at Elmscott, who had debts of over £300, and Alice Docton agreed to settle these if Thomas would assist in getting her husband to write the contrived Will. Together with Thomas Docton of Wellisford, they met at a location away from Thomas Docton's house to work out how to effect their plan.

At the beginning of November 1618, Thomas Docton fell sick, and the time appeared right to put their plan into operation. They asked for the help of Phillipp(a) Bishop (wife of John Bishop of Northam) a motherly servant to Thomas, who could wrap Thomas Docton round her little finger, so she had to be instrumental in making this happen.

Also brought into the plot were Henry Keyne, a mercer and friend of Thomas Docton's; and Henry Brayley, Thomas's servant and clerk of 8 years service, on the promise of some reward.

The Timeline:

On the morning of Tuesday 10th November 1618, Thomas Docton of Wellisford visited Docton tenement, asking for the leases in his present properties to be extended for lives. Thomas Docton was sleeping, so the request was made to his wife Alice. Later that afternoon he was asked to return to Docton with his leases, which were handed to Thomas's clerk Henry Brayley, so that new leases could be drawn up (although it appears that this never happened).

On Wednesday 11th November, Thomas's brother-in-law John Velly (actually his wife's brother-in-law) came and tried to pursuade Thomas to write his Will, but he was dismissed and sent away.

On the evening of Thursday 12th November, Thomas Docton fell more gravely ill. The four conspiritors met and agreed to prevent anyone other than them having access to Thomas's bed chamber. They would try and pursuade Thomas to write his Will leaving everything to wife Alice in trust, and thence to Thomas Docton of Wellisford, apart from various bequests to themselves, and small inheritances to three of Thomas's four nephews, so that they would not call the Will into question.

(A William Docton “next male heir to Thomas”, is also mentioned, but it is not known who he is and what exact relationship he had to Thomas. The final version of the Will calls him a 'cousin', but Thomas's nephews are also referred to as cousins. It is possible that William was a son of Thomas's brother John who died aged 45 apparently without issue, but there are no records to prove this).

On the morning of Friday 13th November, the curate of Hartland parish visited, and read the scriptures to Thomas, but it was said that Thomas was lying in bed not moving, apart from breathing. Later that day, Dr Drumale advise that Thomas Docton could not live more than 2 or 3 days.

In his responses, Thomas Docton of Wellisford admitted that he had spent two nights in the house, including the Thursday night. On Friday morning, it was alleged that Thomas Docton of Wellisford offered Thomas Cholwill “the best suit of satin that you will ever wear in your life”, although this was denied by Thomas Docton of Wellisford.

Later that day, Phillip(a) Bishop tried again, and asked Thomas Docton to give her leases for lives in the properties which she rented in Appledore and Northam, to which Thomas Docton apparently agreed.

Having made progress on their plot, Henry Keyne (on his knees) asked for the same in his tenanted properties, to which Thomas Docton agreed.

That having been done, Thomas Cholwell sat in the Dining Chamber and wrote down what bequests had been coaxed from Thomas Docton, also added those bequests to the three nephews, which had been agreed should be included.

[Thomas Docton of Wellisford also attended this day, but was sent away by Phillipp(a) Bishop, saying he would be called for if needed – see Doc.2]

By 9 o'clock in the evening, the Will had been drafted, and Henry Brayley read the Will to Thomas Docton and asked whether this was his Will, to which Thomas had no breath to utter any words, but all present felt that he had probably said 'Yes'.
The conspiritors then forced a pen into the senseless hand of Thomas Docton, and guided the pen to make his initials, following which wax was applied to the seal, which was still on Thomas's finger, which was also applied to the document.

Nicholas Velly (son of John Velly) who was now present, then pointed out that there were other lands owned by Thomas Docton, which were not included in this Will. Perplexed about what to do about this, a codicil was drawn up, and Thomas Docton was again asked whether this was his Will, to which he appeared to answer 'No'. Nevertheless, the codicil was stitched into the rest of the Will document.

On Saturday 14th November, Thomas Docton lay gasping in his bed all day, with eyes closed. He finally passed away during the night, believed to be in the early hours of the following morning.

When the witnesses came to sign the Will, they were requested to just sign the last page, and not to witness the previous four pages, and it was alleged that some significant changes had been made to those previous pages since Thomas's death.

Other Evidence:

Document 5 (below) refers to an earlier case in the Court of Chancery, which contained some 600 pages of pleadings, and which was at the time of this complaint in the Star Chamber Court, still unresolved. Whether these documents have survived, has yet to be determined.

The complainants called this a ‘false and forged’ Will, although in reality, the word ‘contrived’ is probably a more accurate description of what was produced.

Document 6 (below) then gives Thomas Cholwell and Henry Brayley’s side of the story. Not surprisingly, they both deny that the above happened, and that Thomas Docton was of sound mind, and perfectly capable of discussing the details of his Will with those present, and was also able to sign the Will without assistance.

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Summary of Thomas Docton’s Probated Will:

Thomas Docton died on 15th November 1618, without direct issue.
In his Will, his extensive landholdings were given to his wife Alice during her life, and were then to pass to the following:
•    Lands in the Borough of Hartland given to kinsman John Baggelhole.
•    Lands at Bursdon and Dipford in Hartland to cousin Francis Rowe.
•    Lands at Galsham and Tosbery in Hartland given to cousin John Cooke.
•    Lands at Philham and Trelake in Hartland to tenant Henry Keine.
•    Lands at Crineham in Hartland to cousin William Docton.
•    Lands at Braunton to kinsman John Docton.
•    Lands at Manor of Stoke in Hartland to kinsman Thomas Docton of Wellesford.
•    Lands at Docton (capital messuage) and remaining lands in Hartland to kinsman Thomas Docton of Wellesford.
•    Lands at Northam, Bideford, Abbotsham, Parkham, Woolfardisworthy, Welcombe, Inwardley, Ashwater and Halwell to kinsman Thomas Docton.
The Will was proved on 6th March 1619.
(PCC Will ref: PROB11/133, proved 6th March 1618/19)

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Transcription of documents:


Introduction:

Summary from translated Latin…
The initial title page shows that this is a Royal writ dated 15 Feb 1622, addressed to John Allyn, William Phillipps, Nicholas Baker and John Selbridge, gents; for two or three of them to receive the response of Thomas Docton gent, to the petition of Elizabeth Docton, at Harton Town, on notice of 14 days, and present this on a sheet of parchment, sworn with a corporal oath, for the matter to be heard at Westminster within the month following Easter.


Document 1:

To the Kings most excellent majesty.

In most humble wise complayning and shewe unto y[ou]r most excellent ma[jes]ty, yo[u]r highnes faythfull and obedyant sub[jec]ts Elizabeth Docton, John Cooke, John Baglehole, Francis Rowe and Thomas Hearde of Hartland in yo[u]r majestys County of Devon, the s[ai]d heires to Thomas Docton late of Docton w[it]hin the s[ai]d p[ar]ish of Hartland esq[uir]e deceased, th[a]t is to say yo[u]r highnes s[ai]d sub[jec]t Eliz his sister, one of the coheirs of the said Thomas Docton, John Cooke sonne of Thomasine Cooke one of the sisters of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton, the s[ai]d John Baglehole sonne of Alce Baglehole another of the s[ai]d naturall sisters of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton, the said Francis Rowe sonne of Eme Rowe another of the natural sisters of the said Thomas Docton, and the said Thomas Heard sonne of Agnes Heard another of the sisters of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton.

Thatwhereas the s[ai]d Thomas Docton in his life tyme and at the tyme of his death was lawfully seised in his demesne as of Fee or fee tayle gen[er]all of and in the mannor of Braunton in the County of Devon and of div[er]se other mannors messuages lands tenements reversions services and hereditaments sytuate lyinge and beinge in the several parishes of Hartland, Welcombe, Woolfardisworthy, Parkham, Abbotisham, Northam, Braunton, Marwood, Bideford, Inwardley, Ashwater als Eshewater and Halwill in yo[u]r ma[jest]ys s[ai]d county of Devon, of the yerely value of £800 or above over and besides all fynes incombes heryotts and other causualytes whatsoever and being soe thereof seised.

And havinge noe issue of his body nor brother livinge by the space of 20 [26 in copy document] years now last past, he the s[ai]d Thomas Docton ever had an intent and purpose and soe div[er]se and sundry tymes did expresse himself, th[a]t he would leave all his s[ai]d mannors mess[uage]s lands tenem[en]ts rents reversions services and hereditaments, and wherein he had an estate of inheritance upon his death to descend and come as the same by the course of the common lawes of this yo[u]r ma[jes]ties Realme of England, and to have descended and come to yo[u]r highnes s[ai]d sub[jec]ts.

And the s[ai]d Thomas Docton beinge a man very well esteemed in the common lawes of this s[ai]d Engla[n]ds realme, and one that was in his younger yeares bread up for many yeres together in the Innes of Courts in the study and practise of the lawes of this realme, And one that for his readinge and experyience was for the space of fiftie yeres or thereabouts much sought unto for his advyse and counsell, and was a greate and com[m]on maker of conveyances and drawer and deviser of writings between party and party and for the devisinge and affirminge of lands and estates betweene many sundry p[er]sons in many greate and waightye causes and matters of importance in all w[hi]ch his s[ai]d practise, he the s[ai]d Thomas Docton did ever refuse to drawe any conveyance or to be of counsell w[i]th any p[er]son, that went about or intended by conveyance to disinherit his right heires at com[m]on lawe but was advised therein to the contrary.

And soe it is also if it may please yo[u]r most excellent ma[jes]ty th[a]t the s[ai]d Thomas Docton was at the tyme of his death very rich in his p[er]sonall estate, as namely in chattles, reall, plate, jewells, ready monye, good implements of household debts owinge him, and over chattles p[er]sonell to the value of £4000 or above, and beinge growne verry aged and much decayed in his memory, Alice the wife of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton, nowe also deceased, out of a covetous and greedy desire to gett all his p[er]sonal estate under her selfe and to her owne disposition after his death, and to gaine the rents issues proffits and revenewes and casualtyes of all and singuler the mannors, messuages, lands, tenements, rents, reversions, services and hereditaments wherein he the s[ai]d Thomas Docton had any estate of in her name for terme of her life.

And out of some displeasure which she bore unto yo[u]r highnes s[ai]d subjects, and to the intente to disineherit them and to settle the estate of inheritance of her s[ai]d husband of and in all or the most p[ar]te of the fores[ai]d mannors, messuages, lands, tenem[en]ts, rents, r[ev]ersiones, services upon Thomas Docton of Willisford, a man of a very base and meane condition and fortune, and also a man far of kynn to the s[ai]d Thomas Docton her husband nowe deceased, and not his next heire male and a man whome her s[ai]d husband did never affect nor shewe any favore or countenance in his life tyme, and one that was not by him admitted to have any accesse unto his house [CROSSED OUT: in at least a year more next before the month?] nor durst he at any time to come into his sight.

And to setle p[ar]t of the estate alsoe uppon John Docton, younger brother to the s[ai]d Thomas alsoe nowe living. And to effect and bringe her s[ai]d plot to pass, combined herself w[i]th the s[ai]d Thomas of Wellisford and w[i]th one Thomas Cholwell of Hartland afores[ai]d yeoman, a man in some sorte seeme and experience also in the making of conveyances and one whom the s[ai]d Alice Docton presumed would be readie and inclinable for gayne to serve her and the s[ai]d Thomas Docton treue. And they the s[ai]d Thomas Docton of Wellisford and Thomas Cholwell having thus combyned themselves togeather to bringe to passe and effect their plott, yet knowe they not howe to effect the same for that the s[ai]d Alice Docton had not any interest or power in her s[ai]d husband to drawe or work him soe to dispose of his estate for her s[ai]d husband having just(?) Mondaye Wenesdaye and Thursday next before his death sharply reproved her and otheres for mouving of him to settele his estate eyther by act executed in his lifetime or by will.

But soe it is if it may please yo[u]r most excellent ma[jes]tie that the s[ai]d Thomas Docton deceased, in or about the beginninge of the month of November in the 16th yere of yo[u]r highnes happie raigne over your ma[jes]t[ie]s Realme of England, Scotland, France and Ireland and of Scotland the 7th now last past, fell to be very dangerously sick of the sickness, whereof in or about the 14th or 15th day of the same month died, and not likely at his first entrance into the s[ai]d sickness to recover the same being of the age of 80 years or above.

They the s[ai]d Thomas Docton of Wellisford and Thomas Cholwell thought it then to be the tyme for then to worke uppon the weakenesse of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton deceased, and to effect their s[ai]d plott, yet they thought it to be at tymes impossible for then to bringe to passe they being in small estimation and credit w[i]th the s[ai]d Thomas Docton deceased unlesse they did imploy herein one Phillipp Bishopp, wife to one John Bishopp of Northam aforesaid yeoman, a woman th[a]t then was and had for the space of many yeres before the tyme bene very gracyous in the conceipt of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton deceased, and one to whose motion and request he the s[ai]d Thomas Docton deceased would sooner yield, and she could prevayle more w[i]th him then any other, And one Henry Keyne of Hartland afores[ai]d mercer a man th[a]t for his smouthinge and soothinge speeches then greately in favour w[i]th the s[ai]d Thomas Docton and one Henry Brayly the servaunt and clerke of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton whome they well knew could causse their intended plott unlesse they were made acquainted therew[i]thall and their mouthes stopped w[i]th some deepe rewarde, whereupon all were sent for, and not at the dwellinge house of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton.

The Thursday night next before the death of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton, the s[ai]d plot and intended purpose of the s[ai]d Thomas and Thomas Cholwell then and there was by them discovered unto the s[ai]d Phillipp Byshopp, Henry Keyne and Henry Braylye, and upon longe debatine of the matter howe this plot might be effected and brought to passe, it was at length agreed and amongst them that they the s[ai]d Thomas Cholwell, Phillipp Byshopp, Henry Keyne and Henry Brayly should practise and laboure to effect the same, and were all assured and faythfully promised by the s[ai]d Alice Docton, Thomas Docton of Willisford that if they could soe worke w[i]th the s[ai]d Thomas Docton and drawe him to make his will and to dispose of all his p[er]sonall estate and his goods and cattles upon the s[ai]d Alice and to make her his sole executrix, and that she the s[ai]d Alice might have all the rents issues profitts and casualtyes of all lande and estate of inheritance for terme of her life, and to settle all or the most p[ar]te of his estate of inheritance after the death of the s[ai]d Alice, upon the s[ai]d Thomas Docton of Wellisford and some p[ar]t on John Docton the brother of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton and his heirs, that then they the s[ai]d Thomas Cholwell, Phillipp Bishopp, Henry Keyne and Henry Brayly should quietly have and enioy whatsoev[er] of the estate of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton deceased w[hi]ch they or any of them could drawe or persuade him the s[ai]d Thomas Docton in the extremity of his weaknes to give or bestowe upon them w[i]thout any denyall crossing or gayne sayinge to be used by them the s[ai]d Alice Docton, Thomas Docton or either of them, whereupon it was also plotted contryved concluded and agreed between them the s[ai]d Alice Docton, Thomas Docton, Thomas Cholwell, Phillipp Bishopp, Henry Keyne and Henry Brayley that they the said Thomas Cholwell, Phillipp Bishopp, Henry Keyne and Henry Brayley and Eme Bishopp a daughter of the s[ai]d Phillipp Bishopp who then dwelt in the house of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton deceased should attend the s[ai]d Thomas Docton in his sicknes and by that meanes they might have any fitt oportunitie to worke and laboure w[i]th the s[ai]d Thomas Docton and that all his other household people and all others whatsoever except some spetiall friends of theires whome they knew would noe ways crosse their p[ro]ceedinges and intended purpose, should be debarred from havinge any accesse unto him the s[ai]d Thomas Docton in his sicknes and it was then alsoe contrived and plotted by and amongst them the s[ai]d Alice Docton, Thomas Docton, Thomas Cholwell, Phillipp Bishopp, Henry Keyne Henry Brayley or any of them should p[er]swade and deceive the s[ai]d Thomas Docton deceased at any tyme to make his will and to dispose of his estate as aforesaid, that then some fewe small quillots of his land should be devised to remaine after the death of the s[ai]d Alice Docton, in severalty to yo[u]r maj[esty]s s[ai]d subjects John Cooke, John Baglehole and Francis Rowe and to their hiers thereby to geve them some small content and to stopp theire mouthes and not to call the will in question.

And to one Willia[m] Docton next heire male to the s[ai]d Thomas Docton, one tene[me]nt called Crenhan, but unto the s[ai]d Elizabeth Docton sister of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton was nothinge given by the s[ai]d supposed will her father after his death, her mother after her death, and her brother after his death, leavinge her severall portions which the said Thomas Docton deceased received and imployed to his owne use duringe all his lifetime, and she beinge a woman lame and decreped was alwayes maynteyned in the house of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton deceased, and now after the death of her s[ai]d brother is likelie to be provided for by the p[ar]ishe if the charetie of her frendes doe not extende further then the provision which was made for her by the deceased brother.

And also to yo[u]r highnes s[ai]d subject Thomas Heard another of the s[ai]d coheires of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton nothinge at all was given by the s[ai]d supposed will. The s[ai]d complotters well knowinge they were poore people and had noe meanes and as fewe frendes to call the s[ai]d will in question, if any such will was made then upon which said plot and combynation they the s[ai]d Thomas Cholwell, Phillipp Bishopp and Henry Keyne sometymes all of them and alwayes one of them at the least, were with the s[ai]d Henry Brayley and the s[ai]d Eme daughter of the s[ai]d Phillipp Bishop attending the s[ai]d Thomas Docton in his s[ai]d sickness by the space of five days, and noe one other of the household people of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton was p[er]mitted to come unto him nor any other but such as they pleased duringe which tyme they the s[ai]d Thomas Cholwell, Phillipp Bishopp, Henry Keyne and Henry Brayley did at divers and sundry tymes move and p[ur]suade the s[ai]d Thomas Docton to make his will and to settle his estate, but the s[ai]d Thomas Docton would by noe means be by them or any of them p[ur]suaded thereunto whereuppon the said Phillipp Bishopp being much discontented came downe from the chamber where the s[ai]d Thomas Docton lay in great rage and said that she would be gon[e] and would stay there no longer with him, and beinge demanded by a servant maide of the house how her master did, she answered there he laye like a pigg and will not make his will nor answer me a word to what I request and afterwards the same daye she departed but soune returned to attone the s[ai]d Thomas Docton and revyved her former suite and request unto him to make his will and to settle his estate which hee still refused to doe duringe the tyme he was of p[er]fect memorie.

And on the Wednesday next before his death he dying the Saterdaye following, the s[ai]d Thomas Docton deceased beinge demanded by John Vellye gent his brother in lawe, in the presence of the said Phillipp Bishopp and others whether he had made his will and settled his estate, answered he had not and being much stronger to doe by his s[ai]d brother in lawe used these words “brother Vellye when I doe intend to make my will, w[hi]ch I am not yet resolved to doe nor purpose any such any such thinge, I will send for you and will pray you for to be p[re]sent there at”, then the s[ai]d complotters intended no more to make his will till they know him past memorye sence and understanding.

But then on the next daye followinge beinge Thursday the s[ai]d Thomas Docton grewe verye weake and beinge now altogeather bereft of his sences memorye and understandinge and now they began to act what they had formerly discussed and complotted.

At first Thomas Cholwell brought a writinge readie ingrossed whereby the s[ai]d Thomas Docton gave unto the s[ai]d Thomas Cholwell the inheritance of certeyne lands to have him signed and sealed it, but would not suffer the wittnesses to these writings to be present eyther at the signinge or sealinge thereof for feare they would have discovered the weakenes of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton, but intreated them to staye w[i]thout the chamber dore of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton till the busines were finished, which they did, and put there handes unto the deede in another roome in w[hi]ch deede consideration was expressed but never any payd.

And on the Fridaye in the foorenoone next before his death and Thomas Done curate of the p[ar]ish of Hartland afores[ai]d came unto the s[ai]d Thomas Docton, and understandinge that he had not made his will nor any waye settled his estate did p[er]suade him thereunto and wished him to prepare himselfe for another world and used to him divers sentences of the holie scripture thereby extortinge him to sett his house in order, but such was then the weakenes of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton and the small sence memorye and understandinge which hee then had, he neither moved hande head nor eye nor gane him anye one worde thereunto, but laye as if he had ben a dead stocke, saveinge onlye that hee breathed.

And the same morninge the s[ai]d Thomas Cholwell met one Thomas Dungie and tould him that he came from Mr Docton who laye verye sicke and past all hope of restoration unto his former health and sences and that hee laye in that extremytie of weakenes as that he was not fit nor able to settle his estate nor to make any disposall of it, but how sooner he beinge a man of agreat fortune and his wife Alice Docton haveinge but a small jointure, he would undertake a venture to make a will for his goods for the good of the old gentlewoman meaning the said Alice, whereunto Dungie said “I wishe you to be advised what you doe, for you may fall into great danger thereby”.

Then the s[ai]d Thomas Docton lyinge in that case, they the said Thomas Cholwell, Phillipp Bishopp, Henry Keyne and Henry Brayley afterward the same Fridaye next before his death takeinge occasion to worke uppon the weakenes and deceyed sence memorye and understandinge of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton, they the complotters of this practise being formerly resolved by Mr Doctor [Docton in duplicate document] Drumale that Thomas Docton could not live in his opinion above 2 or 3 dayes. And the doctor beinge urged to administer some cordyall receipt he utterly refused alledeinge that all physicke came to late and it would be in vayne administred unto him, began againe to tamp and worke w[i]th him the s[ai]d Thomas Docton to make his will and to settle his estate. And beinge often tymes the same daye by them urged thereunto and questioned w[i]th all whether he would doe it answered to all their demannnds whatsoev[er] nothinge but “yee”.

And then the s[ai]d Phillipp Bishopp seinninge and well likeing his mannor of answeringe to what at any tyme was demanded asked him whether shee should have a lease for terme of hir life in certayne messuages lands and tenem[en]ts of his called Com[m]ons lyinge and being w[i]thin the fores[ai]d p[ar]ishe of Northam, then in the possession of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton and worthe by the yeare £40 or above, the s[ai]d Thomas Docton answered nothinge thereunto but “yee”. Then she the s[ai]d Phillipp Bishopp asked him againe whether two of her children should have it for their lives after her, to w[hi]ch the s[ai]d Thomas Docton answered nothinge but “yee”. Then she the s[ai]d Phillipp Bishopp findinge him the s[ai]d Thomas Docton to have noe other worde in his mouth but ‘yee’, came uppon him againe for leases and estates in divers other of his messuages landes and tenements lyinge and being w[i]thin the p[ar]ishe of Northam, and asked him whether shee should have it for her life, whereunto the s[ai]d Thomas Docton answered againe nothinge but but “yee”. And then s[ai]d she the s[ai]d Phillipp shall two of my children have the same alsoe after my death, whereunto the s[ai]d Thomas Docton answered still nothinge but “yee”. And shee the s[ai]d Phillipp Bishopp haveinge thus obteyned her desire forthw[i]th and w[i]thin a very littel tyme after tendred unto the s[ai]d Thomas Docton certaine leases readye ingrosed by the s[ai]d Cholwell, and immediately sealed by the s[ai]d Thomas Docton wherein noe consideration was expressed nor never any given the whole which was granted beinge worth £1000.

And after the s[ai]d Phillipp Bishopp had thus obteyned her desire, the fores[ai]d Henry Keyne an other of the complotters began to act his p[ar]te and to intreat for himself and asked the s[ai]d Mr Docton, callinge him by the name of Master and kneelinge on his kneese whether he should have to him and to his heirs the inheritance of certayne messuages lands and tenem[en]ts lyinge and beinge w[i]thin the severall villages fields and grounds of Filham and Trelike within the s[ai]d p[a]rish of Hartland, then in the possession of the said Henry Keyne, and of one John Bond, whereunto the s[ai]d Thomas Docton still answered nothinge but “yee”. And the s[ai]d Henry Keyne findinge the s[ai]d Thomas Docton in the vayne of answeringe ‘yee’ to every request prayed him that he would bestowe uppon him and his heirs the inheritance of two closes of land lyinge and beinge in Filham w[i]thin the s[ai]d p[ar]ish of Hartland, then in the tenure or occupation of Thomas Docton, whereunto the s[ai]d Thomas Docton answered nothinge but “yee”. And the s[ai]d Henry Keyne haveinge in this manner obteyned a grant of as many thinges as he requested, the inheritance whereof beinge worth to be sould £1000 or above, held him selfe contented.

And thereuppon they the s[ai]d Thomas Docton, Thomas Cholwell, Phillipp Bishopp, Henrye Keyne and Henrye Braylie all thinges workinge to their will, the extremitie of weakenes beinge their chiefest friend and their plott and combynation beinge now ripe and fitt for action and the s[ai]d hired complotters beinge liberally rewarded w[i]th those giftes w[hi]ch they had gotten from the s[ai]d Thomas Docton by the allowance of the s[ai]d Alice wife of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton deceased, began to contrive and make writinge purportinge the last will and testament of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton.

And in and by the same writing, the s[ai]d Thomas Cholwell beinge the writer but the rest also writinge in the dynynge chamber three roomes of the bed chamber of the said Thomas Docton, the s[ai]d Thomas Cholwell did write and sett downe w[i]thout any direction fermly given by the s[ai]d deceased Docton, that that the s[ai]d Thomas Docton deceased should demise and bequeath to the s[ai]d Allice his wife all his messuages lands tenem[en]ts rents reversions servises and hereditaments with th[e] appurtenances situage lyinge and beinge w[i]thn the Borough and Feildes of Harton in the s[ai]d p[ar]ishe of Harton, to have and to hould the same to the s[ai]d Allice for tearme of her life, and that after her decease, the same should remaine to the s[ai]d John Baglehole one of y[ou]r ma[jes]ties said subjects and his heires.

And that thereby he should alsoe give and demise unto the s[ai]d Allice his wife all those his messuages lands tenem[en]ts rents rev[er]sions services and hereditaments with th[e] appurtenances lyinge and beinge the severall villages fields and grounds of Steddon, Bursdon and Dipford w[i]thin the said parish of Hartland to have the same to the s[ai]d Allice for terme of her life, and that after her decease the same should remayne unto the said Frauncis Rowe another of yo[u]r ma[jes]ties said subjects and his heirs for ever.

And alsoe that thereby the said Thomas Docton should give and demise to the s[ai]d Allice his wife all that one tenem[en]t in Galsham in the s[ai]d p[ar]ishe of Hartland then in the possession of Phillipp Pitton widower, togeather w[i]th the rents rev[er]sions and services of the same, and also all those lands tenem[en]ts and hereditaments w[i]th th[e] appurtenances called Belland lyinge and beinge w[i]thin the fields and grounds of Tosburye in the said p[ar]ish of Hartland, and also the use and occupation of his lease for yeares of and in certayne lands and tenem[en]ts in Tosbury afores[ai]d which he held of the demise and grannte of one John Tibb, to have the same to the s[ai]d Allice for and duringe the terme of her naturall life, and that after her decease, the s[a]id tenem[en]t called Galseham and the lands and tenem[en]ts called Belhams should wholy remayne and be unto the s[ai]d John Cooke another of yo[u]r ma[jest]ies s[ai]d subjects and his heires for ever. And that the s[ai]d lease and terme for yeares in the s[ai]d lands and tenem[en]ts in Tosbury aforesaid w[hi]ch he held of the demise and grannt of the s[ai]d John Tibb, he should thereby give and demise unto the s[ai]d John Cooke another of the coheires of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton and his assignes for ever.

And also that thereby the s[ai]d Thomas Docton should geve and demise unto the s[ai]d Alice his wife all those messuages lands tenem[en]ts w[i]th th[e] appurtenances situate lyinge and beinge w[i]thin the s[ai]d sev[er]al villages fields and groundes of Filham and Trelicke in the s[ai]d p[ar]ish of Hartland, then in the possession of the s[ai]d Henry Keyne and John Bond or eyther of them, togeather w[i]th the rents rev[er]sions and services of the same to have the same to the s[ai]d Alice his wife for and duringe the terme of her natural life and that after her decease the s[ai]d messuages lands tenem[en]ts and hereditaments in Filham and Trelicke afores[ai]d w[i]th the rents rev[er]sions and services of the same should wholy remayne and be unto the s[ai]d Henry Keyne and his heirs for ever, w[hi]ch land lyinge in Filham and Trelicke aforesaid is the same w[i]the the s[ai]d Henry Keyne formerly uppon his earnest importanytie got of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton in his extreme weakenes and now here wrought to have it also confirmed by the supposed will of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton.

And also that thereby he the s[ai]d Thomas Docton should geive and devise unto the s[ai]d William Docton his kinsman and next heire male, all those messuages lands tenem[en]ts and hereditaments w[i]th th[e] app[urtenan]ces in or called or knowne by the name of Crenehame in the s[ai]d p[ar]ishe of Hartland, then in the possession of Honor Knapman widdow her assigne or assignes, togeather w[i]th the rents rev[er]sions and services of the same, to geve the same unto the s[ai]d William Docton his heires and assignes for ever.

And also that thereby the s[ai]d Thomas Docton deceased should give and demise unto the s[ai]d Alice his wife all those messuages lands tenem[en]ts rents rev[er]sions services and hereditaments w[i]th th[e] appurtenances situate lyinge and beinge w[i]thin the p[ar]ishe of Bra[u]nten in the s[ai]d county of Devon, to have the same unto the s[ai]d Alice his wife for and duringe the terme of her natural life, and that after her death the s[ai]d lands messuages tenem[en]ts rents rev[er]sions services and hereditaments w[it]h th[e] appurtenances aforesaid should wholy remaine and be unto John Docton the elder, brother unto the s[ai]d Thomas Docton de[cease]d and to his heirs for ever.

And that also he the s[ai]d Thomas Docton deceased should thereby geve and demise unto the s[ai]d Alice his wife, all that his manno[r] of Stock w[i]th th[e] appurtenances and tenements in Filham therein mentioned, to be geven and demised to the s[ai]d Alice to the s[ai]d Henry Keyne parcell of the s[ai]d mannor, and one other tenem[en]t called Cryneham therein mentioned to be demised unto the s[ai]d William Docton only excepted, to have the same (except before excepted) unto the s[ai]d Allice for and duringe the tearme of her naturall life, and that after her death the s[ai]d mannor of Stoke w[i]th th[e] appurtenances, (except before excepted) should wholy remayne and be unto the s[ai]d Thomas Docton of Wellisford and to his heires forever.

And also that he the s[ai]d Thomas Docton deceased should thereby give and demise unto the s[ai]d Alice his wife two closes of land in Filham then in his owne possession to have and to hould the same unto the s[ai]d Alice for terme of her natural life, and that after her death the two closes of land should wholy remayne and be unto the s[ai]d Henry Keyne and to his heires forever, w[hi]ch is also p[ar]te of his first request unto the s[ai]d Thomas Docton in his extreme weakenes.

And likewise that thereby he the s[ai]d Thomas Docton deceased should give and demise unto the s[ai]d Alice his wife all that his Cappitall messuage Barton and demeasnes called Docton in the s[ai]d p[ar]ishe of Hartland, and all the tenem[en]t w[i]th th[e] appurtenances called Thorrey in the s[ai]d p[ar]ish of Hartland, all that tene[me]nt called Dodworthie in the s[ai]d p[ar]ish of Hartland, and also all those messuages lands tenem[en]ts rents rev[er]sions services and hereditaments w[i]th th[e] appurtenances situate lyinge and being w[i]thin the severall villages feildes and groundes of Milford, Trelicke, Herworthie, Galeshame, Filham, Tosbury, Welford, Southole, Whitlies, Whitlie Moore, to have the same unto the s[ai]d Alice his wife for and duringe the terme of her naturall life, and that after her decease the same should remaine and be unto the s[ai]d Thomas Docton of Wellisford and to his heirs for ever.

And also that thereby the s[ai]d Thomas Docton deceased should geve and demise unto the s[ai]d Alice his wife all those his messuages lands and tenem[en]ts rents rev[er]sions services and hereditaments w[i]th th[e] appurtenances situate lyinge and being w[i]thin the severall p[ar]ishes of Northam, Bediford, Abbotisham, Parkham, Wolfardesworthie, Welcombe, Ashwater and Halwill in the s[ai]d county of Devon, to have the same unto the s[ai]d Alice his wife for terme of her naturall life, and that after her death the same should wholie remaine and be unto the s[ai]d Thomas Docton of Wellisford and to his heires for ever.

And for the better credit of the s[ai]d contrived writinge purportinge a will she the s[ai]d Alice Docton directed the s[ai]d Thomas Cholwell (as she afterward reported to divers) the writer of the s[ai]d will, to sett down in the s[ai]d writing that the s[ai]d Thomas Docton deceased for his better credit as she sayd should thereby give and bequeath towards the reparation of the church of Hartland £10, toward the reliefe of the poore of the same p[ar]ishe £10, and toward the reliefe of the poore of the p[ar]ish of Welcombe £3, and toward the reparation of the church of Welcome £3, alsoe to divers other p[ar]ishes and churches. And to his servants George Hatherlie £10, and to his servant Frauncis [Heard] £10, and to his servaunt Christopher Tooker £2, and soe for the better credit and reputation of the will, divers other small leagacies were devised to divers other servants.

And alsoe he the s[ai]d Thomas Docton deceased by the same writinge should make and ordayne the s[ai]d Alice his wife to be his whole executrix, whereas in truth the s[ai]d Thomas Docton deceased did never geve demise or bequeath any of the s[ai]d legacies or demises aforesaid in the s[ai]d writinge contained or mentioned, nor did at any tyme geve to the s[ai]d Thomas Cholwell who wrote the same writinge contyrved as afores[ai]d, or to any other eyther in wrytinge or by worde of mouth, or otherwise any order or direction for the s[ai]d guiftes bequeathes or legacyes afores[ai]d, or any other or for the disposinge and settleling of his p[er]sonall or reall estate in manner as afores[ai]d or in any other manner att all, neyther did the said Thomas Docton deceased at any time nominate appointe or ordayne the s[ai]d Alice his wife to be his executrix, nor did by any expresse name or otherwise give or dispose of any of his said messuages lands tenementes reversions services or hereditaments to the s[ai]d Alice his wife, Thomas Docton of Wellisford, John Docton, William Docton, Phillipp Bisshopp, Henry Keyne, or to any of yo[ur] ma[jes]ties s[ai]d subjects, or to any of them, but they the said Alice Docton, Thomas Docton, Thomas Cholwell, Phillip Bishopp, Henry Keyne, and Henry Brayley, did forge devise make and contrive the s[ai]d writinge perporting the last will and testament of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton deceased, of themselves thereby to defraud and disinherit your ma[jes]ties said subjects, co-herers to the said Thomas Docton deceased of their birthright of in and to the said mannor messuages lands tenements rents rev[er]sions services and hereditaments, and to drawe and to conferr all his personall estate beinge worth £1000 at the least, uppon the s[ai]d Alice his wife, and the said writinge beinge soe made contrived and written by the s[ai]d Thomas Cholwell in a roome removed from the bed chamber of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton, receyvinge directions p[ar]te by Phillipp Bishopp, p[ar]te by Alice Docton, p[ar]te by Henry Keine, and p[ar]te by the direction of Henry Braylie, as they went too and froo from the bed chamber of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton unto the roome where the will was written, beinge 3 roomes from the bed chamber of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton.

And before all things weare finished, the s[ai]d John Vellie, brother in law unto the s[ai]d Thomas Docton, cominge up the stayres into the bed chamber, was thrust back by Phillipp Bishopp and could not be sufferred to come unto the s[ai]d Thomas Docton, w[i]th the s[ai]d John Vellie understandinge that the will was contrievinge, profered to enter once againe, but was the second tyme repulsed by the s[ai]d Phillipp Bishopp.

Then they the s[ai]d Thomas Cholwell, Phillipp Bishopp, Thomas Docton, Henry Keyne and Henry Brayley about nine of the clock at night next before the death of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton, he dyinge the Satterdaye night following, the said Thomas Docton byinge then past all sence memory and understanding, came all into the bed chamber of the deceased Thomas Docton and after came downe into the under roome and requested those that were there to be present at the sealinge delivery and publication of this writinge w[hi]ch they had finished.

And then Braley re[a]d the same wrytinge unto the s[ai]d Thomas Docton and before he had thoroughly re[a]d it, he the s[ai]d Thomas Cholwell demanded “is this yo[u]r will”, the s[ai]d Thomas Docton lyinge w[i]th his mouth open and his eyes shut gaspinge for breath, to the understandinge of all them present they beinge willinge to make the best interpretation, answered “yee”, for the standers by weare intreated by the s[ai]d complotters to make the best interpretation of his words, for you see s[ai]d they he is a weake man, and you shall all be contented w[i]th liberall rewardes for it.

And then he lyinge streched in his bed now like a dead corpes, then a living soule, he beinge not able to stire head nor soule, he the s[ai]d Thomas Cholwell w[i]th much laboure to get his fingers togeather to sticke a pen betwene them, did then put a pen into the hand of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton, and tooke his hand and guided the same and made a signe or some two letters to the said forged and contrived writing. And then tooke the seale of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton where unto a stringe or strapp was tyed, and wax beinge put to the s[ai]d writing, one of them made an impression of a seale herew[i]th upon the s[ai]d writing, and then did put the s[ai]d stringe or strapp in over one of the s[ai]d fingers of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton deceased, and did put his hand w[i]th the said seale unto the s[ai]d writing, but such was the weakness, senceles want of memory and understandinge of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton, that he let his hande lye and conntynue upon the s[ai]d writinge and did not as much as once argue or offer to take it from thence, w[it]h the s[ai]d Thomas Cholwell, Phillipp Bishopp, Henry Keyne and Henry Brayley perceavinge they did drawe away the s[ai]d writinge from out under the hand and seale of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton and the s[ai]d seale by the stringe or strappe that was tyed thereunto hanginge fast to his finger, w[hi]ch was the true manner, and all that the s[ai]d Thomas did in the subscribing and sealing of the s[ai]d writing, the worde ‘yea’ was all the words he spake in the affirminge of the same writing, or that w[hi]ch was contryved therein to be his will and testam[en]t, whereas in truth the s[ai]d Thomas Docton had he beene in any sence or memory would have written his owne name thereunto, fayerly in in a Court Hand as he usuall did write.

W[hi]ch s[ai]d false and forged writinge they the s[ai]d Thomas Cholwell, Phillipp Bishopp, Henry Keyne and Henry Brayley received and tooke, and as they were carryinge away of the same it was remembred by one Nicholas Vellie, then p[re]sent in the bedchamber of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton, he lyinge senceles and voyde of all understanding, there were certaine messuages lands and tenem[en]ts of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton that were omittted and left out of the s[ai]d will, as namely certaine messuages lands and tenem[en]ts situate lyinge and beinge in the severall villages feilds and grounds of Gawlish, Titchberie, Blackpoole mill lyinge w[i]thin the p[ar]ish of Hartland, and demanded my maisters who shall have them and soe divers other things were remembred by others standinge by, that were omitted out of the will, whereupon the s[ai]d complotters replyed that this that is omitted there was noe remedie but the heires at the com[m]on law must have and after this mannor was the estate of the s[ai]d Thomas devided before himselfe by strangers(?), he lyinge for want of sense and understandinge not able to discerne what was done.

But howsoever then the s[ai]d Thomas Cholwell, Phillipp Bishopp, Henry Keyne and Henry Braylye went together into another roome and there the s[ai]d Thomas Cholwell drewe up a writinge perportinge to be a codicil or revision to the s[ai]d false and forged will did thereunto annex it perportinge that thereby the s[ai]d Thomas Docton deceased should geve and demise unto the said Alice his wife and to her heires for ever, the s[ai]d messuages lands and tene[men]ts in the s[ai]d severall villages of Gaulish, Tichhbury and Blackpoole in the omitted and lefte out of the s[ai]d false and forged will, and came instantly agayne unto the s[ai]d Thomas Docton and they demanded of him severally one after the other, whether the s[ai]d Alice his wife should have the same lands in Gaulish, Titchburie and Blakepoole myll, w[hi]ch being hardy able to speake answered then thereunto w[i]th a lowe voice, his mouth lyinge open and his eyes shut “noe”, and beinge demanded other questions he still answered “noe”, whereupon Thomas Dungie then present said my Maisters I would wish you to trouble him noe more, for now he is in the vayne to say nothinge but ‘noe’, for even now when he was sayinge ‘ye’, he would say nothinge but ‘yee’, and nowe he is sayinge ‘noe’, he will say nothinge but ‘noe’ every tyme. Come awayy come awaye, you will spoyle all and if you will reade the will againe, the will now say noe, where he better answered ‘yee’, for when he was sayinge ‘yee’, he would say nothinge but ‘yee’, and nowe he is sayinge ‘noe’ he will saye nothinge but ‘noe’. And I doe assure you, you will mar all, and thereupon they left him and tooke away the s[ai]d codicill or addition, w[hi]ch was sowed and enacted to the forged will.

And thenceforth the s[ai]d Thomas Docton languished w[i]thout sence memory or understanding not able to speak or stur, but laye gasping w[i]th his mouth open and his eyes shut, and the Satturday night following he died, but when the witnesses cam[e] at the tyme of the publication to subscribe their names, the will consisting 4 or 5 sheetes of paper, they would have written their names to every sheete w[hi]ch Cholwell would not suffer, but directed them to sett theire hande to the last sheet w[hi]ch they did, but since the former sheets whereunto noe hands were are altered for they beinge not contented w[i]th what they had done, strooke out of the s[ai]d forged will some legacies and inserted words formerly omitted for when the will was after seene by the witnesses, the first legasie that was re[a]d in the will at the tyme of the publication w[hi]ch was to John Baglehole of a tene[me]nt in Milford given to him and to his heires, is not nowe uppon the will w[hi]ch is extant.

And alsoe whereas Henry Braylie re[a]d in the will that Docton deceased gave unto Alice his wife all his lands lyinge and beinge in Trelike, Herworthie, Gaulsham, Filham, Tosburie, etc. and all were in the par[is]h of Hartland, those words also were inserted in the will since the publication of it to the utter disherison and undoinge of yo[u]r ma[jes]ties s[ai]d subjects. 

Then by and upon whose death maye it alsoe please yo[u]r most excellent ma[jes]tie, that the s[ai]d Alice Docton now dead did publish the false and forged writing to be the last will and testament of her s[ai]d husband Thomas Docton deceased and as a treu and p[er]fect will, and thereuppon tooke into her possession all the mony plate jeuels goods ch[a]ttels and p[er]sonal estate whereof the s[ai]d Thomas Docton died possessed, beinge well worth £4000 or above, and did administer the same or the most p[ar]t thereof as an executrix to her s[ai]d husband during her lifetime, and by ~~lor(?) of the s[ai]d false and forged will alsoe received and tooke all the rents issues p[ro]fitts and casualties of all the mannors messuages lands tenem[en]ts and hereditaments whereof the s[ai]d Thomas Docton dyed seised of an estate of inheritance. But lately after she dyed and the s[ai]d Thomas Docton the def[endan]t after her death, ent[e]red into the lands demised unto him by this false and forged will, and had possessed himself of all the kindences deedes chres’ writinges escrepts and mynim[en]ts w[hi]ch doe touch or concerne the same lands and tenem[en]ts or any p[ar]t thereof. And doe most wrongfully deteyne the same from yo[u]r ma[jes]ties subjects to their [d]isoriherisin(?) and undoing forever.

And further yo[u]r highnes’ s[ai]d subjects sheweth unto yo[u]r most excellent ma[jes]tie that the s[ai]d Phillipp Bishopp sithence the death of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton hath published the said false and forged leases and estates w[hi]ch she as afores[ai]d obteyned and got from the s[ai]d Thomas Docton in his deathbed, and at such a tyme when he had neyther sence memory and understand[ing], and mayneteyneth the said forged and lawfull leases and estates and hath ent[e]red into the lands and tenem[en]ts and hereditaments thereby false mentioned to be conveyed unto her, whereas in truth the s[ai]d Thomas Docton as longe as he was in perfect sence memory and understanding did always deny and refuse to grannte unto the s[ai]d Philipp Bishop or to her children any lease or estate at all of or in any of his messuages lands and tenem[en]ts.

And also yo[u]r ma[jes]ties s[ai]d subjects further sheweth unto yo[u]r most excellent ma[jes]ty that to add the better creditt to the aforementioned false and forged will and hende(?) th[a]t the fores[ai]d Thomas Cholwell and Henry Brayley would be held to be competent witnesses to the same, and that noe deception might be taken their testimony if it should be had or used for the probate thereof for havinge of any gift or leagasie in or by the s[ai]d false or forged will, they well knowinge th[a]t if they should not be liberally dealt w[i]thall by the s[ai]d Alice Docton and Thomas Docton of Wellisford, for their plottinge and contryvinge of there s[ai]d false and forged will to their contents as afores[ai]d, w[hi]ch they well knowe they could overthrowe agayne at theire pleasure, would not have as they nowe give out and reporte any gift or legacye to be inserted or mentioned in the s[ai]d false and forged will to be given to them or eyther of them by the said Thomas Docton deceased. But would rely upon the curtesie of the s[ai]d Alice Docton and Thomas Docton of Wellisford, who had formerly bound themselves in stronge promises to give them and liberall hire fore their labours soe it is.

May it also please your most excellent ma[jes]ty that shortly after the death of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton deceased, the s[ai]d Alice Docton knowinge the s[ai]d Thomas Cholwell to be indebted, did will him to bring unto her a note of all his debts, w[hi]ch he did bringe above £300, and duringe her lifetime she payde a greate p[ar]te thereof.

And the s[ai]d Thomas Docton of Wellisford for the plottinge contrivinge and writing of the s[ai]d false and forged will, hath eyther given or faythfully promised to give and bestowe upon the s[ai]d Thomas Cholwell in money leases and lande a liberall recompence besides those that he got of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton in his extremytie of his weakness.

And the s[ai]d Alice Docton also shortly after the death of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton her husband, promised the s[ai]d Henry Brayly to be assured and contracted in marriage unto Eme the daughter of the s[ai]d Phillipp Bishopp, and to keepe him suer and firme unto her, did bestowe liberally upon him in mon[e]y and also goods unto him, an interest of a terme of and in certaine messuages lands and tenem[en]ts w[i]thin the p[ar]ish of Kilkhampton in yo[u]r Maj[es]ties county of Cornewall, and the wardshipp of Zachary Sherne(?) worth to be sold £200 or above, and promised him greate reward kindnesses and courtesies besides, and gave him entertainment and mainteynance in her house, w[hi]ch she p[er]formed duringe all the tyme of her life. And the s[ai]d Thomas Docton hath also geven or promised to give or bestowe upon the s[ai]d Henry Brayley eyther in mon[e]y leases or lands or greate recompence.

And nowe for as much as the plottinge contryvinge and forginge of the s[ai]d will in manner as afores[ai]d by the fores[ai]d Thomas Docton, Thomas Cholwell, Phillipp Byshopp, Henry Keyne and Henry Braylie, and the contryvinge and forginge of the s[ai]d estate and leases obteyned in manner as afores[ai]d by the said Phillip Bishopp and the rest, are against the lawes and statutes of yo[u]r ma[jes]ties s[ai]d realme of England, and tende to the disinherison of yo[u]r ma[jes]ties s[ai]d subjects and theire heires for ever.

And also seeinge since the death of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton, the s[ai]d Thomas Cholwell, Phillip Bishopp, Henry Keyne and Henry Brayly, and the s[ai]d Thomas Docton complotters and the contrivers of the s[ai]d forged will, doe not deny this combination and forgery, seeke now etch one of them to excuse himself, for Brayley say[e]th of Cholwell and the rest were the contryvers of the will, and Cholwell layeth the whole worke upon Brayley, Keyne and the rest, and etch one seaketh to excuse himselfe in accusinge his companyon. 

And also in regarde the witnesses to the will, saye that theire are divers legacies omitted out of his will extant w[hi]ch weare re[a]d at the tyme of the publication of the will, and that other words are since inserted w[hi]ch were not then re[a]d, and Braylie the reader of the will gives out that he re[a]d the will trewe as it was written, soe that all crosses one the other uppon the truth of the matter. But we dought not but prove all equally guilty in this dishonest plott, and false aluse. 

And that the s[ai]d Alice Docton deceased often reported in her lifetime of the making of the will of the s[ai]d Thomas Docton, he was a was weake and of noe memory and understanding And he gave nothinge but that it was free that gave all, and if not be inflicted uppon them for their s[ai]d forgery misdemeanors and mormyons offe~~~[HIDDEN IN CREASE] the same writer tende to the danngerus and ill example of divers of yo[u]r ma[jes]ties ill disposed subjects.

And fore as much alsoe as the s[ai]d forgeryes and misdeameanors weare committed sithence yo[u]r ma[jes]ties last generall and free pardon, may it therefore please yo[u]r most excellent ma[jes]tie to grannte unto yo[u]r highnes s[ai]d subjects yo[u]r ma[jes]ties most greavious writ of subpoana, to be directed to the s[ai]d Thomas Docton, Thomas Cholwell, Phillippp Bishopp, Henry Keyne and Henry Brayly, thereby commanding them and every of them at a certayne daye and under a certeyne payne p[er]sonally to appeare before yo[u]r ma[jes]tie and yo[u]r highnes counsel in yo[u]r ma[jes]ties most honorable court of Staire Chamber then and there to answeare the premises, and farther to stand unto and abyde such scensure order and direction therein as to yo[u]r ma[jes]ties said Court shalbe thought meete, and yo[u]r ma[jes]ties s[ai]d subjectes shall daylie praye to almightie God for yo[u]r ma[jes]ties most happie reigen over us.

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Document 2:

Interrogatories to be ministred to Thomas Docton gent, one of the defendants to the Bill of Complaint of Eilizabeth Docton, John Cooke, John Bagilhole, Francis Row and Thomas Hearde complaynants.

1) Whether were you cozen & next heire male to the said Thomas Docton decessed or who was his next heirs, make declare the truth herein.

2) Did you hold any lands or tenements of the said Thomas Docton deceased in his life tyme either for terme of life or for yeares, either in yo[u]r owne right or in the right of your wife. If yea, then what landes and tenem[en]ts. Where do the same lie.

3) Whether were you a suitor unto the said Thomas Docton deceassed in his last sickness whereof he lied, to take of hym any farther estate or estates either to yo[ur]selfe or to one of yo[u]r children, of and in the same lands and tenem[en]ts or any p[ar]cell thereof. What annswere did he geve ye therein.
And whether did not you come unto the dwelling howse of the said Thomas Docton deceased the Thursday or Friday next before his death, and bring w[i]th you readie engrossed, or had there ingrossed two sev[er]all writings purporting farther estate or grannts to be made and granted, of and in the fore said lands and tenem[en]ts so held by yo[u]r lease of the said Thomas Docton, or of some p[ar]te thereof, either to yo[ur]selfe or to some or one of your children. Who drew and ingrossed the same writing and writeings for you. Had you a promise or grannt from the said Thomas Docton deceassed before the said writing or writings were drawen and ingrossed, that he the said Thomas Docton deceased would grannt unto you or to any of your children, any farther estate of and in the foresaid lands & tenem[en]ts w[hi]ch you so held of him by lease or any p[ar]cell thereof.
If yea then when and where did the said Thomas Docton deceased make the same promise or grannt, and what were you or your children to pay for such estate, or estates and when was the same to be paide.

4) What was the cause that the said Thomas Docton deceased did not seale your said prepared writing or writings, and whether did not you sollicite Thomas Cholwill, Phillippe Bishoppe and Henry Brayley, three other of the def[endan]ts or any of them or any other to procure the said writing or writings to be sealed. What did move you to sollicite them or any of them therein. What consideration did you geve or promise to gein unto them or any of them, and to w[hi]ch of them if they or any of them could effect the same. What annswere did they or any of them geve unto you upon yo[u]r motion therein.
And whither did not the said Thomas Cholwill, Phillippe Bishoppe and Henry Brayley, or one of them, and w[hi]ch of them said unto you that you should goe home, and if we cannot make it fit well for you, we will send for you againe and you shall have your leases sealed at last. Howsoever or what words or speeches did the said Thomas Cholwill, Phillippe Bishoppe and Henry Brayley or any of them, and w[hi]ch of them use to you concerning that you should goe home and should be sent for againe if they could not procure the said Thomas Docton deceassed to doe any thing for you, or touching the sending for you againe or to that or the like effect, and to what effect. Declare the trueth to every p[ar]ticuler question of this interrogatory.

5) Whether did you or any other for you to yo[u]r knowledge or as you thinke, ever sollicite request intreat labour or practise with Alice Docton deceassed, late wife to the said Thomas Docton deceassed, the foresaid Thomas Cholwill, Phillippe Bishoppe, Henry Keene and Henry Brayley or any of them by your selfe, or by some other, to wynne drawe or procure the said Thomas Docton deceased by his will or otherwise, to settle or convay any p[ar]te or p[ar]cell of his mannor lands or tenements, whereof he stood seised of an estate of inheritance upon you and yo[u]r heires, or upon any childe or children of yours, and his or their heires. If you or any other did, then w[hi]ch of them did you, or any other, intreat labour sollicite or request practise with or p[ur]suade to that effect. And what some or somes of money or other guift consideration reward or recompence did you or any other geve or promise to geve to bring the same to passe.
And whither did you or any other, never geve or make any promise to geve or bestowe unto or upon the said Thomas Cholwill, Henry Keene, Henry Brayley and Phillippe Bishoppe or any of them, any guift reward or recompence at all, in, about, for, or concerning the setling of any of the lands and tenem[en]ts of the said Thomas Docton deceased, by will or otherwise upon you or any of yo[u]r children.
And did you not promise or beare them or some or any of them and w[hi]ch of them in hand, that if they could draw or procure the said Thomas Docton deceased to settle his lands or some p[ar]te thereof upon you and yo[u]r heires, or upon some childe or children of you and his or their heires, that then they should peaceably enioy such gifts and legacies as they could draw or procure the said Thomas Docton deceased to bestowe upon them or any of them, or what speaches or communication had you or any other for you, or in yo[u]r behalf w[i]th them the said Alice Docton, Thomas Cholwill, Henry Keene, Henry Brayley and Phillipe Bishoppe or any of them, and how many of them, and where and how often during the last sickness of the said Thomas Docton deceassed whereof he died, about or concerning the setling of his estate.
And what hope did they the said Alice Docton, Thomas Cholwill, Henry Keene, Henry Brayley and Phillippe Bishoppe or any of them, and w[hi]ch of them put you in that the said Thomas Docton deceassed should or would settle all or p[ar]te of his lands of inheritance upon you or some childe of children of yo[u]rs.

6) How often were you in the Mansion house of the saide Thomas Docton deceassed whiles he laid sick in his last sickness whereof he died, and how many nights or p[ar]te of nights did you lie in the said howse dureing that tyme.
And howe many meales of meat at did you make within that tyme in the said howse, and how many tymes did you visitt and see the said Thomas Docton deceassed in all the tyme of his last sickness whereof he died.
What speech or communication had you with the said Thomas Docton deceassed, and to what effect, dureing the tyme of his last sickness whereof he died. And if you did not visit or see him at all, no had any speech or communication with him during the tyme of his last sickness, what was the cause or reason thereof. Were you forbidden or wished by any not to see him during that tyme. If you were, then by whom and what was the reason thereof, and how long was the said Thomas Docton sicke in the sicknes whereof he died.

7) Were not you in the hall howse of the Mansion howse of the said Thomas Docton deceassed the Friday morning next before the death of the said Thomas Docton.
Where laie you that night in or before, and whither did not the said Thomas Cholwill and you lie togeather that Thursday night next before the death of the said Thomas Docton, in the mansion howse of the said Thomas Docton deceassed.
What speach or communication had you and the said Thomas Cholwill togeather that night concerning the estate of the said Thomas Docton deceased and the setling thereof, and concerning the sealing of yo[u]r prepared writing or writings or leases of concerning any of them.

8) Whether did not the said Thomas Cholwill (sitting in a chaire in the hall of the dwelling house of the saide Thomas Docton deceassed the Friday morning next before the death of the said Thomas Docton) saie to you these wordes “what will you geve me Thomas Docton” and you shall all sit in this chaire. Did you not then annswere “I will geve you the best suite of satten or satten suite that ever you weare in yo[u]r life”. And did not the saide Thomas Cholwill then replie thereunto and saie, “well you shall see”.
What meant the said Thomas Cholwill by the said wordes sitting in the said chaire, and by the saide wordes “well you shall see”, or by any of them, or what did you understand thereby.
And for what did you offer to geve to him the said Cholwill a satten suite. Deliver the truth herein.

9) Whether have you seene or have read, or were there or are there any writing or writings purporting a lease or leases made by the saide Thomas Docton deceassed unto the said Phillippe Bishoppe, or to any child or children of the said Phillippe, or to any of them, or to John Bishoppe husband of the said Phillippe, of any of the messuages landes tenem[en]ts rents or hereditam[en]ts that were the messuages lands tenem[en]ts rents or hereditaments of the said Thomas Docton deceassed, lying and being within the p[ar]ishe of Northam in the saide countie of Devon or elsewhere. If yea then to which of them are the said supposed lease or leases mentioned to be made or granted.
And of what messuages landes tenem[en]ts rents or hereditaments to each of them p[ar]ticulerly, and for what estate or estates, term or terms and what are all the things worth by the yeare w[hi]ch are mentyoned to be grannted by the said supposed lease or leases, and whither doe they they saide Phillippe Bishoppe and her childe or children enioy and take the issues and p[r]offitts of all the messuages lands tenem[en]ts rents and hereditam[en]ts w[hi]ch were mentioned in and by the said lease and leases to be grannted to the said Phillippe Bishoppe and her childe or children, or to any of them according to the purport of the said lease and leases, or who else doth enioy p[ar]cell thereof and what p[ar]cell then cost.
And what is the cause or reason that the said Phillippe Bishoppe and her childe or children doe not enioy the whole issues and proffitts of the said messuages landes tenem[en]ts rents and hereditam[en]ts according to the purport of the saide lease or leases.
And whither doe you enioy any p[ar]te or p[ar]cell of the said messuages landes tenem[en]ts rents or hereditam[en]ts, and what p[ar]te thereof, or receive or take the issues and profitts hereof or of any p[ar]cell thereof.

10) Who bare the charge of the said Thomas Cholwill and Henry Brayley or either of them, in their rideing to London this last terme so annswere the compl[aynan]ts bill.
Did you or any other, paye any p[ar]te thereof, or have you or any other promised to beare their or either of their charges therein or any pa[ar]te thereof, or have you or any other promised to geve them, or either of them, any allowance recompense for or towards the same or any p[ar]te thereof.

11) Whither was not the said Thomas Docton deceassed in his younger yeares trayned up in the studie of the common lawes of this land, and was he not well read or seene in the comon lawes of this lande, or so gen[er]ally accompted. Did not many resort unto him for counsel and for drawing and makeing of conveyances.
And whither to yo[u]r knowledge or as you have heard, did the said Thomas Docton in his life tyme make any other will than the pretended will supposed to be made by him in his last sicknes.
And did not the said Alice Docton, Thomas Cholwill, Henry Keene, Henry Brayley and Phillippe Bishoppe nor any of them nor any other, at noe tyme tell you that the said Thomas Docton had made a former will, or that he had a will by him of his owne writing at the tyme of his death, or had setled his lands or some p[ar]te thereof by some conveyance.
And did none of them, nor any other, report anything unto you that there should be a foremer will or conveiance of Mr Doctons owne making.
And did you see at noe tyme, or heare read any such will or any conveiance made by the said Thomas Docton deceassed in his life tyme, whereby he the said Thomas Docton had setled his lands or some p[ar]te thereof.
And did you never report and saie that if the coheires would not be contented w[i]th the gifts which they have by the will w[hi]ch Mr Docton made in his death bedd, that then there would be another will or conveiance found that would be worse for them, or did you never saie or report any wordes to the like effect.

12) Whether have you concluded with any one and with whom f~[HOLE IN DOCUMENT]~tch for yo[u]r sonne, or whether have you offerd to anie and to whom, to match yo[u]r sonne, and in what manner a ~[HOLE IN DOCUMENT]~n what termes & conditions have you other concluded or offred to conclude with William Cary esquire ~[HOLE IN DOCUMENT]~atch yo[u]r sonne to one of his daughters, upon condition that the said William Cary should countenance or support you in yo[u]r suite against the comp[laynan]ts.
Hath not the said William Cary solicited and followed yo[u]r suit in lawe against the said compl[aynan]te or some of them, aswell in the country as in London.
Who bare his expences and charges therein. Is not the said Mr Cary a Justice of the peace of the countie of Devon, and whither did not the said Mr Cary at the gen[er]al sessions of the peace holden for the said countie of Devon, when some questions of supposed forcible entries came in question betweene you and the compl[aynan]ts, or some of them, stickle yo[u]r cause and therein shew himselfe verie favourable of yo[u]r side. What moved the said Mr Cary so to doe.
And what reward or promise did you ever geve or make unto him for his countenance and favour therein.

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Document 3:

The examynation of Thomas Docton gent, one of the def[endan]ts to the interrogatories of Elizabeth Docton, John Cooke, John Baglehole, Francis Rowe and Thomas Heard compl[aynan]ts, taken at Harton Towne in the County of Devon the seventeenth day of April in the twentieth yere of the raigne of our Soveraigne Lord James [1622], by the grace of god of England France and Ireland, kinge defender of the ffaithe etc, And of Scotland the five and fiftieth.
Before John Allyn and William Phillipps gen'r by vertue of a commission out of his ma[jes]ties high court of Starchamber to them directed.

1) To the first Sutour he saith that he thinketh that he, the examynate, is cosen & next heir male to the said Thomas Docton decessed. That is to say, sonne of Richard Docton, who was brother to John Docton father to the said Thomas Docton decessed.

2) To the second suter he saith That he, this examynate, did hold of the said Thomas Docton decessed in his life tyme, one tenem[en]t in Wellesford in the parish of Hartland, and other tenem[en]t called Tosseburie in the said p[ar]ishe, in both w[hi]ch he this examynate and Susan his wife had an estate or estates for terms of their lives, or for years determinable upon their lives, either ioyntly or by way of remainder, the certainty of w[hi]ch estates he cannot now well expresse for that he hath not now the lease or leases hereof w[i]th him.

3) To the third suter this examinate saith that att the tyme of the makinge of this examinate estates before mentioned in the said lande by the said Thomas Docton dec[ease]d, he this examynate had not any child, but at that tyme the said Thomas Docton decessed did agree for the same consideration to grant unto him an estate for a childes lief in each of the said tenem[en]ts, for w[hi]ch farder estates this examinat at the tyme of the last sickness of the said Thomas Docton decessed, about fower or five daies before his death, had a purpose to have in o~[crease in document]~ed him, and for that cause went to the howse of Docton where the said Thomas Docton then lay sicke earlye in a morning, and acquainted Mris Docton his late wief of his cause of con[vey]inge, who prayed this examynate at that tyme not to move him there, for that as she affirmed he was then a sleepe.
And thereupon this examinate dep[ar]ted without speaking with him. And saith that in the afternoone of the same day this examynate was sent for to come to Docton, & thereupon he carried w[i]th him his lease or leases for the said tenem[en]ts w[hi]ch he form[er]ly had, and delivered the same as he thinketh to one Henry Brayley, who was clerke to the said Thomas Docton decessed, or to some other of the howse, and saith that he hath heard that there was a new lease or leases written up to be granted by the said Thomas Docton decessed, of the said lands as he had formerly agreed, but saith that he this examynate never tendered the same to the said Thomas Docton, neither had of himself any speech w[i]th him thereabout in his said last sickness, nor knoweth who did write or ingrosse the same.

4) To the fowerth suteur This examinate saith that he knoweth not what the cause was that the said Thomas Docton decessed did not seale the said writinges in that interrogatory mentioned, for that this examynate had never any speech w[i]th him therein himself in his last sickness as he hath before deposed. And denyeth that he did give or promise to give any consideration to the said def[endan]ts Thomas Cholwill, Phillippe Bishopp and Henry Brayley or to any of them, or to any other to procure the said writinges to be sealed, but acknowledgeth he beinge at Docton howse about the said now estates to be made him, that the said Phillip Bishop about a day before the said Thomas Docton dyed, said to this examynate That he should goe home, and that if some better matter came not unto him from the said Thomas Docton decessed, then the said leasses he should be sent for againe or to that effect. And more to that interrogatories then he hath before deposed he saith not.

5) To the fiveth interrogatorie he saith That he this examynate did not nor any other to his knowledge, or by his procurement, did labour or practise with the said Allice Docton, Thomas Cholwill, Phillip Bishop, Henry Keyne and Henry Brayley or any of them, to winne drawe or procure the said Thomas Docton decessed, by his will or otherwise, to setle or convey any p[ar]te or p[ar]cell of this manors lands or tenements whereof he stood seized of an estate or inheritance upon him this examinate and his heires, or upon any child or children of his, and his or their heires, neither praysed(?) any some or somes of mony or other guift consideration reward or recompence to any of them for or concerninge the setlinge of any of the lands of the said Thomas Docton decessed upon him, this examinate, or any of his children either did pinse[?] or beare any of them in hand, That if they could so doe, they should peaceably enioy such guiftes and legacies as they could draw or procure the said Thomas Docton decessed to bestow upon them.
And saith that he remembreth not that he had any speech w[i]th the said Allice Docton, Thomas Cholwill, Henry Keene, Henry Brayley and Phillip Bishopp or any of them about the setlinge of the estate of the said Thomas Docton decessed, neither had he any hope from them or any of them therein untill it was publiquely knowne to divers how he had disposed thereof by his will.

6) To the sixth suteur he saith that duringe the last sickness of the said Thomas Docton he was two or three tymes at the howse of the said Thomas Docton decessed, and thinketh that he lay there two nights or the most parte of two nights, but remembreth not whether he did take any meale of meate there duringe that tyme.
Neither did then speake w[i]th the said Thomas Docton decessed and saith that he would willingly have spoken w[i]th him, but conveyed that Mris Docton his wief was not willing thereto and thinketh that he was sicke about fortnight before he dyed.

7) To the seventh suteur he saith That he thinketh it to be true that he was in the hall howese of the said Thomas Docton decessed the Friday mor[n]ing next before the death of the said Thomas Docton, and that as he thinketh he lay a night or two in the said house during the time of the last sickness of the said Thomas Docton, wheresoe one night he thinketh that he lay w[i]the the said Thomas Cholwill and had sev[er]al speeches w[i]th him concerning some of the lands of the said Thomas Docton decessed, in w[hi]ch as he thinketh he told the said Thomas Cholwill that he, this examinate, thought that he said Thomas Docton decessed had some lands w[hi]ch he could not put from him, this examinate, or to [t]hat effect. And what other speeches he had w[i]th [t]he said Thomas Cholwill concern[in]g the said Thomas Doctons lands or his, this examinates said leases he remembreth not.

8) To the eighth suter this examinate saith That he remembreth not that the said Thomas Cholwill sittinge in a chaire in the hall howse of the said Thomas Docton decessed the Friday mor[n]ing next before the death of the the said Thomas Docton, did say to this examinate theis words (viz: What will y[o]u give me, and y[o]u shall sit in this chaire, neither in what words this examynate did then answere him, but denieth that he promised any satten suite or suite of satten for that cause as in the said interr[ogatory] is demanded.

9) To the nynth suter this examynate saith That he hath heard that the said Thomas Docton decessed did make some leases of some of his lands in Northam to the said Phillip Bishop and to some of her children, the certainty whereof this examinate cannot expressse for he cannot re[c]all. And doth comend it not to be a matter laid to his charge in the compl[aynant]s bill. And acknowledgeth that he doth receive some rents out of some of the said lands w[hi]ch he was advised did belonge unto him.

10) To the tenth suter, this examinate saith That he knoweth not that the said Thomas Cholwill and Henry Brayley, or either of them, did ride to London this last terme to aswere the comly[aynants] bill, and such that he did not paye or promise to pay to them or either of them any thinge for that iourney, or who els did he knoweth not.

11) To the eleventh suter he saith that the said Thomas Docton decessed spent some tyme in his younger yeres in London and as he thinketh in studying the lawes, and divers did resort unto him for councell and makinge of writinges, but saith that he knoweth not that he made any other will, then that in his last sicknes neither remembreth that the said Allice Docton, Thomas Cholwill, Henry Brayley or any of them did tell this examinate that the said Thomas Docton had made a former will, or that he had a will of his owne hand writinge att the tyme of his death, or had setled his lands or some parte thereof by conveyance.
But saith that one Beare told this deponent that the said Mr Docton should have a will of his owne making, w[hi]ch this examynate did not believe, for that he knew the said Beare to be a man of no greatt creditt. And denieth that to this remembrance, he ever said that if the coheires would not be contented w[i]th the guiftes, there would be another will or conveyance found w[hi]ch would be worse for them (or to that effect).

12) To the twelveth suteur he saith That he conveyoeth there is no matter therein conteyned w[hi]ch is laid to this examinates charge in the compl[aynant]s bill.

Signed: Jo: Allyn, William Phillipps.

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Document 4:

The further annswere of Thomas Docton gentleman one of the defendants, To the Bill of Complaint of Elizabeth Docton, John Cooke, John Baglehole, Franncs Rowe, and Thomas Heard complaynants.

The said Defendant having to himselfe now and att all tymes hereafter all advantage of exception to the incertenities & insufficiencies of the saide Bill of complaint for Annswers thereunto sayeth:

That he doth think it to be true that the saide Thomas Docton esquire deceased, was in his lifetyme lawfully seised in his demeasne as of fee of the lands and hereditam[en]ts in the Bill mentioned.

And that the saide Thomas Docton had noe heire of his bodie att the tyme of his death.

And that the saide complaynants are his next heires by the course of the com[m]on lawe.

But he doth neither knowe, nor thinke, that the saide Thomas Docton had an intent, or purpose to suffer his saide lands to descend to the said complaynants, but verely beleeveth the contrarie, for the saide Thomas Docton dyd always (as this defendant doth verely beleeve and hopeth to prove) intend, and resolve, that the greatest p[ar]te of his said lands and estate of inheritance should remayne, and contynew after his decease to his name, and bloode.

Accordinge to w[hi]ch purpose and resolution, the said Thomas Docton (without the procurement, motion, or p[ur]swasion of this defend[an]t or of any other such defend[an]ts to his knowledge) dyd (as this defend[an]t verely beleeveth) make his last will and testament in writinge bearinge date the thirteenth daye of November in the yere of our Lord god one thousand sixe hundred and eightene, whereby he dyd (amongst other things) give, and devise the most p[ar]te of his lands and hereditam[en]ts (after the decease of Alice Docton his wief, whome he made his sole executrix by the saide will, which saide Alice Aitkyn? so since decease) unto this defend[an]t, and to his heirs and some other p[ar]te of his lands and hereditam[en]ts, he dyd thereby give and devise (after the death of the said Alice) to the saide complaynants John Cooke, John Baglehole, and Frances Rowe, and to their heirs severally in such manner as in and by the same will maye appeare, unto w[hi]ch will, this defend[an]t for more certeintie therein doth referre himselfe, which saide will, the saide Thomas Docton dyd (as this defend[an]t hath beene credibly informed, and verely beleeveth it to be true) signe seale publishe and acknowledge to be his last will and testament.

But this defend[an]t sayeth, that he was not present thereatt, neither dyd this defend[an]t knowe the effect or contents thereof untill after the same was made, and published as before said.

And this defend[an]t sayeth that the first p[er]son by whome and the first tyme when this defend[an]t dyd first proave or understand that the saide Thomas Docton deceased had given him this defend[an]t any thinge by the saide will, was by one Nicholas Velly whoe (as this defendant hath synce heard) was a witness to the saide will, whoe (verie shortly upon and after the tyme of the sealinge, and publishinge of the saide will as aforesaid) came to this defend[an]t, and sayde, Gossippe(?), I can tell you good news Master Docton hath made you his heire.

And this defend[an]t sayeth, That he doth verely thinke and beleeve, That the saide Thomas Docton deceased, dyd make signe seale publishe and acknowledge the saide will as aforesaid, of his owne free will, And that he was then of a p[er]fect mynde, and disposinge memory as this defend[an]t verely beleeveth, and doubteth not to prove the same.

And this defend[an]t sayeth that the said Thomas Docton dyed w[i]thin two days next after the signeinge sealinge publishinge acknowledginge of the said will as aforesaid as he beleeveth.

And he doth expresly saye that the saide will was not procured or drawen from the saide Thomas Docton by him this defendant, nor by any other of the defend[an]ts by this defend[an]ts meanes nor to his knowledge or thinkinge, nor by any other p[er]son, or p[er]sons whatsoever by this defend[an]ts procurement or privitie.

And this defendant sayeth, That he dyd never move, solecitt, p[ur]suade, or deale w[i]th the saide other defend[an]ts, or w[i]th any of them, nor w[i]th any other p[er]son or p[er]sons whatsoever, to drawe, p[ur]swade, or procure the said Thomas Docton now deceased, for to give, or convey thes lands, or any p[ar]te thereof to this defend[an]t, But the saide Thomas Docton dyd (as this defend[an]t verely beleeveth) freely doe the same out of his love, and good respect w[hi]ch he had to this defendant, being of his kynn, name, and bloud, that is to saye, sonne of Richard Docton, brother of John Docton, father of the saide Thomas Docton deceased.

And he doth further saye, That the saide Thomas Docton deceased, dyd alwayes in his lief tyme, showe good respect to this defendant, and this defend[an]t was never at any tyme in his health or sickness (to his now remembrance) denyed to have accesse to him the saide Thomas Docton deceased as by the saide Bill of complaint is alledged, save only this defend[an]t once comynge in his last sickness tyme to see him, annswere was made to this defend[an]te by the saide Mistress Docton his wife, that he was then layde or disposed to sleepe, for that this defend[an]t dyd then departe agayne, w[i]thout seeinge of, or speakinge w[i]th the saide Mr Docton.

And this defend[an]t sayeth that the saide complaynants Cooke, Baglehole, and Rowe synce the decease of the saide Alice Docton whoe dyed in or neere about the later end of the month of August in the seaventeenth yere of the raigne of the kinges Ma[jes]tie that now re~~~~(?) have taken, and as enioyed severally and respectively (as this defend[an]t beleeveth and hopeth to make good proofe thereof) the yssues, and profitts of the saide lands, and tenem[en]ts, unto them severally devised by the saide will as is aforesaide, and hath and still doe (as this defentant beleeveth) take, and enioye the same in such force by the saide will is lymitted, and appointed.

And this defend[an]t sayeth that he verely beleeveth and hopeth to make good proofe, that the saide lands and tenem[en]ts devised to the said complaynants Cooke, Baglehole, and Rowe as aforesaid, are full as much, or more, than the saide Thomas Docton in the tyme of his health, dyd intend, or meane to give to them, or to any of them.

And that he was p[ur]swaded by the motions and p[ur]suasions of some about him (as this defendant beleeveth and hopeth to make good proofe) in the tyme of his last sickness, to give unto them the saide complaynants rather more landes than lesse than he dyd otherwise meane, or intend.

And this defend[an]t sayeth That he hath credibly heard, that the said Thomas Docton deceased had noe good opinion, or lykeinge of the saide complaynants Cooke, Baglehole and Heard.

And sayeth alsoe That the saide complaynante Baglehole dyd saye unto him this defend[an]t that hee was well contented w[i]th that w[hi]ch was given him by the saide will of the saide Mr Docton and that it was more than he dyd expect, And wished this defend[an]t much good of the landes w[hi]ch were devised to him by the saide will.

And this defend[an]t hath beene credibly informed That the saide complaynante Rowe hath likewise acknowledged, that he was well pleased w[i]th the lands devised unto him by the saide will.

And this defend[an]t further sayeth That the saide complaynante Elizabeth Docton (whoe was in the house of the saide Thomas Docton when he made his saide will and att the tyme of his death and all the tyme of his sicknes as this defend[an]t beleeveth), hath synce the death of the saide Thomas Docton acknowledged, and still doth acknowledge the said will to be the true will of the saide Thomas Docton as hee verely beleeveth.

And the saide Elizabeth Docton hath utterly disclaymed this suite to be by her privitie, or consent, As by her disclaymer beinge of record in this ho[noura]ble court (as this defendant is credibly informed) whereunto this defend[an]t referreth himselfe, appeareth.

And he further sayeth, that the saide will (after the death of the saide Thomas Docton) was (as he hath beene readibly informed) duely proved by the saide Alice Docton his executrix in the Prerogative Court of the Archbishopp of Canterburye, where, after examynation of witnesses on both sydes, and great opposition made therein by some of the saide compl[laynan]ts (as this defendant hath bene alsoe informed) the saide will was by the Sentence of the saide Court declared to be the true will of the said Thomas Docton deceased, As by the saide Sentence whereunto this defend[an]t doth referreth himselfe maye appeare.

And this defend[an]t further sayeth That he verely beleeveth that this suite attempted against him is p[ar]tely to putt him to excessive cost and charge in lawe, thinkeinge thereby to draw him to compound, and agree w[i]th the saide comp[lainan]te, and this defend[an]t is the rather p[ur]swaded for to beleeve for that some of the saide complaynants have heretofore exhibited their Bill of complaint into his Ma[jes]ts High Court of channcerie against this defend[an]t, conteyninge in substance (as heretofore he hath beene, and now is advised) the same matters now complayned of heere in this ho[noura]ble court, In w[hi]ch suite in channcarie, the saide complaynants proceeded to examynation of witnesses, and many witnesses were therein examyned, and in Easter terme laste was twelve months (as this defend[an]t hath beene informed) there was publication in the said cause in the saide court of chauncerie w[hi]ch cause there still dependeth readye for hearinge as this defend[an]t verely beleeveth, and yett now this suite is alsoe heere in this ho[noura]ble court attempted and prosecuted against him to vex him double (as he beleeveth) for the same clause [cause?] thereby to putt him to extraordinarie cost, and charge as is aforesaid, And p[ar]taly alsoe for that the saide complaynants Cooke and Baglehole havinge by their councell (as this defend[an]t beleeveth) understa[n]de, that the depositions alreadye taken in the saide suite in channcerie will not serve their torne [terme?], will now indeavour by all possible meanes (as this defendant verely beleeveth though never soe vuinstly [unjustly?] or dishonestly) to supply now by this suite what they fynde to be wantinge in their proofes in the former suite in channcerie.

And this defend[an]t is the more induced soe to beleeve, for that he hath credibly heard, and hopeth to make good proofe thereof, that the saide compl[ainan]t Cooke hath practised, laboured, and indeavoured, that some of the witnesses formerly examyned whoo aswell in the Prerogative Court, as alsoe in the said suite in the ho[noura]ble court of channcerie have testified (as this defend[an]t is informed) the lawfullnes, and due makeinge, and publishinge of said will as aforesaid, should now retract, and denye the same. And for that alsoe the saide complaynante Cooke (as this defend[an]t hath credibly heard) hath formerly used the lyke, and more lewde and dishonest practise, and courses in other causes, which this defend[an]t doubteth not but by good proofes to make manifest, and apparaunt to this ho[noura]ble court.

And this defendant sayeth, That he verely beleeveth that this suite is attempted and prosecuted against this defend[an]t by the meanes, and instigation of the saide complaynants Cooke & Baglehole (being men of p[er]verse, and obstinate dispositions, and of yll behavyo[u]r but especially by the instigation of the saide complaynante Cooke by whome the saide complaynante Baglehole is much ruled therein, as this defend[an]t beleeveth.

And this defendant hath credibly heard that the saide compl[ainan]t Thomas Heard was not privye or acquaynted w[i]th this suite, nor hath or doth beare and of the costs thereof. And hath alsoe credibly heard, that the saide complaynante Rowe hath not, nor now doth beare & owe the costs, and charges in this suite, but that the same is wholy borne, and defrayed by the by the saide complaynants Cooke, and Beglehole, or by one of them whoe have undertaken the charge, and burden of this suite and to uphold, and mainteine the same att their owne proper cost & charge, as this defend[an]t hath credibly heard.

And the saide complaynants Cooke and Baglehole, or one of them (as this defend[an]t hath alsoe credibly heard) have, or hath great bonds, covenants or other assurance from the saide complaynants Rowe, and Heard, or from one of them, that they nor either of them shall release, or make any end w[i]th this defend[an]t touchinge the lands devised to this defendant by the will of the saide Mr Docton w[i]thout the privities or consents of the saide complaynants Cooke, and Baglehole, or of one of them All which is done by the meanes of the saide complaynants Cooke, and Baglehole as this defend[an]t is fully p[ur]suaded for the causes and reasons before in this defendants annswere expressed and sett downe, as this defendant verely beleeveth in which this defendant most humbly prayeth the consideration of this honourable court.

And this defend[an]t utterly denyeth that he dyd either by himselfe, or by or w[i]th the saide Alice Docton, Thomas Cholwill, Phillipp Bishopp, Henry Keyne and Henry Brayley or by or w[i]th any of them, of by or w[i]th any other p[er]son or p[er]sons whatsoever, or that the saide Alice Docton, Thomas Cholwill, Phillipp Bishopp, Henry Keyne, and Henry Brayley or any of them, dyd of themselves (to this defendants knowledge, or thinkeinge) forme, devise, make of contryve the saide writinge in the bill mentioned, purpurtinge the last will and testament of the saide Thomas Docton deceased, in such mann[er], and forme as in the saide Bill of complaint is most falsely and slannderously sett forth and suggested.

And this defendant further sayeth That he hath not given or bestowed, or promised to give or bestowe upon the the saide Henry Brayley either in mony lease, or leases, or lands, or otherwise, and recompense att all.

Neither hath this defend[an]t given, or promised to give to the saide Thomas Cholwill, Henry Keyne, and Phillipp Bishopp, nor to any of them, nor to any other p[er]son, or p[er]sons any brybe, guift, or reward whatsoever to or for the procureinge, makeinge or contryvinge of the will of the saide Thomas Docton deceased.

As in the saide Bill of complaint is alsoe most falsely, and slanndrously sett fourth and surmysed, And as to all and every of the supposed plotts, practices, combynations, forgeries, and other the misdemeaners whatsoever in the saide Bill of complaint mentioned, and thereby layde in any sorte to this defend[an]ts charges he this defendant sayeth, That he is not of them, or of any of them guilltie, in the such sorte, mann[er], and forme.

As in the saide Bill of complaint they are most untruely sett fourth and declared All which matters this defendant is, and will be ready to averr, maineteine, and prove, as this ho[noura]ble court shall awarde.

And most humbly prayeth out of the same to be dismissed w[i]th his reasonable costs and charges in this behaulfe most wrongfully susteyned.

Signed: John Hutchings.

Capt apud Harton Towne in Com’ Devon decimo septimo die Aprils, Anno Regni D~?~ Jacobi nmr R Angli vicessimo et Scot quinquagessimo quinto Coram nobile.
[Taken at Harton (Hartland) Town in county of Devon, the seventeenth day of April, in the reign of King James of England the twentieth and Scotland fifty fifth, before the nobility (i.e. 1622)].

Signed: John Allyn, William Phillipps.

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Document 5:

Jux mentis vicessimo quarto die April A[nn]o Decimo nono. [of the twenty-fourth day of April (16)19].

The Plea of Thomas Docton one of the defendannts to the Bill of Compl[ain]t of Elizabeth Docton, John Cooke, John Baglehole, Frauncis Rowe and Thomas Heard complaynants.

The said defendannt by p[ro]testation not confessinge or acknowledginge any the matters in the said Bill conteyned to be true in such manner and forme as the same are therein alleadged, for Plea ther[e]unto sayeth that fower of the sayed complaynannts in this most honorable court, namely, John Baglehole, John Cooke, Frauncis Rowe and Thomas Heard before they did exhibite their sayed Bill of Complaynt into this most honorable court, that is to saye, in the terme of Easter in the seaventeenth yeare of his Maiesties raigne that now is of England, did exhibite their Bill Compl[ain]t in to his Maiesties High Court of Chauncery against this defendante conteininge the same matters in substance for the false and undue contryveinge of the last will and testament of the said Thomas Docton in the Bill mentioned, that are now sett foorth in their sayed Bill of Compl[ain]t in this most honorable court, unto which Bill this defendannt in or about trinitie terme then following, in the said seaventeenth yeare of his Maiesties Raigne, did answeare unto which answeare, the sayed then Complaynannts in the same Trinitie terme did reply, and yssue beinge ioyned in the saide chapt(?), afterwards theruppon div[er]s wittnesses weare examined in the sayed court of chauncery aswell on the parte of the said then complaynannts as on the parte and behalfe of this defendannt concerninge the contriveinge of the sayed will, whereby the said then complaynannts did endeavo[u]r to prove that the sayed will was falsely and undulie made and contryved by this defendannt & others by his meanes and procurement.

And that the same was not duely made or declared by the sayed Thomas Docton deceased, and this defend[an]t on the contrarie parte, did endeavo[u]r to prove, that the same was duly made and declared by the sayed Thomas Docton deceased and was not gotten or drawen from hym by anie indirect or unlawfull meanes, and the said examinations weare afterwards, that is to saye in Easter terme in the eighteenth yeare of his maiesties sayed raigne, published in forme of lawe, whereof the said complainants and this defendannte had coppies, which together with the other pleadings in the said Court of Channcery did conteyne sixe hundred sheetes of paper or about as this defendant verilie thinketh, which the sayed complaynannts or their councell haveinge seene and perused they perceiveinge that they had noe perfect nor sufficyent proofe of their sayed surmises in their sayed Bill as this defendannt verely beleeveth, did afterwards, that is to saye the sixt daye of February in the eighteenth yeare of his maiesties raigne, to the end to supplie their sayed proofes after publication therof as this defendant conceaveth exhibite into this honourable court, this Bill of complaynt against this defendannt and others, conteyninge the same matter in effect and substannce that was compayned of in the sayed court of channcery as afforesayed, as this defendannt by his councell learned is informed in their owne names, and in the name of the sayed Elizabeth Docton without her conssent or privitie, As in and by a certificat (inserted: ready to be showed to this most honourable court) under the hand of the said Elizabeth Docton appeareth.

By which Bill the said now complaynants doe endeavour to putt in yssue and examination again[st]e the same matters in substances (as this defefends by his councell learned is informed) that weare formerly complayned of in channcery as afforesaid, namely whether the said will was duely made and declared by the said Thomas Docton or not, or whether the same was undulye contryved and p[ro]cured by this defendannt or others by his meanes or not, or whether the sayed Thomas Docton was of p[er]fecte forme or memory at the tyme of the makeinge of the sayed will, which matters as this defendannt by his councell learned is informed weare fully in issue in the said Court of Channcery, and many wittnesses weare examined theruppon and their depositions published as afforesaid, and the same matters doe still depend in the sayd court of channcery unheard, underided, and undismissed, which course of the saide complaynannts is contrary to the course of this honourable court and to the comon justice of this realme, as this defendannt is informed by his councell, the same beinge a double vexation and in example dangerous, of great consequence in that depositions after publication beinge in this manner supplied perinriet(?) & subornations of juiryes are therby like to be proved(?) and ceanytt(?) wherfore, and for that, the same cause is now ready for heareinge in his maiesties court of channcery this defendannt doth most humbly praye the judgment of this most honourable court whether he shalbe compelled to make any other or furthere answeare unto the said now Bill of Compl[ain]t exhibited in to this honourable court against hym and others, before the saide Bill in Channcery be there heard and determined.

All which matters and things this defendannt is and ever wilbe readie to averre and prove as this most honorable court shall award and humbly prayeth to be hence dismissed with his reasonable costs & charges in this behalfe wrongfully susteined.

Signed: John Brampton(?), Nich Duck.

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Document 6:

[hidden by fixing]~~~~quarto die ffebruary [hidden by fixing]~~~Jacobi regis.

The Joynt & severall annsweres of Thomas Cholwell & Henry Brayley two of the defend[an]ts to the Bill of Compl[ain]t of Elizabeth Docton, John Cooke, John Baglehole, Franncis Rowe and Thomas Heard compl[aynan]ts.

The said defend[an]ts saveing to themselves all advantage of exception to the said Bill of Compl[ain]t, nowe & att all tymes hereafter for annswerre thereunto they saye And eyther of them for himselfe severally sayeth, that they thinke yt to be true that the said Thomas Docton deceased, was in his life tyme and at the tyme of his death lawfully seised in his demeasne as of fee & in a mannor in Braunton & of divers other lands & tennements & hereditaments as in & by the said Bill of Compl[ain]t is alleadged.

But these defend[an]ts doe not certaynely knowe what was or is the yearely value of the said mannor lands tennements and hereditaments, whereof he the said Thomas Docton was soe seissed as aforesaid.

But they further saye that the said Thomas Docton had noe heire of his body, to these defend[an]ts knowledge.

And that the said compl[ainan]ts as they have heard and beleeve are the next and right gen[er]al heires of the said Thomas Docton by the course of the common lawe.

But these defend[an]ts neyther knowe nor beeleeve that the said Thomas Docton ever or at any tyme had an intent or purpose, or that he did divers or sundry tymes or at any tyme declare & expresse himselfe that he would leave all his said mannor & land to discend unto the said compl[ainan]ts, as in & by the said Bill of Compl[ain]t is alleadged.

And they alsoe saye that they thinke yt to be true that the said Thomas Docton at the tyme of his decease, had a p[er]sonall estate of good value but to what value they knowe not, but does therein referr themselves to the inventory taken thereof.

But concerning the combinations plotts & practises & every of them touching the last will of the said Thomas Docton and the supposed forging and false contraiveing thereof, they these defend[an]ts saye, and each of them for himselfe say[e]th severally, that neyther the said Alice Docton nor the said defend[an]t Thomas Docton, nor any other of the defend[an]ts did combine plott or practise w[i]th these defend[an]ts or eyther of them to gayne to the said Alice and lye and other defend[an]t Thomas Docton or eyther of them the said lands tenements or estate of the said Thomas Docton.

And they these defend[an]ts Thomas Cholwill & Henry Brayley sev[er]ally saye that neyther the said Alice Docton nor the said Thomas Docton, nor any other did make or give or promise to give to them or eyther of them any reward or promise of reward to any such intent or purpose, as in & by the said Bill of Compl[ain]t is untruely alleadged.

But for more full Annswerre thereunto, and for declaration of the truth concerning the said last will of the said Thomas Docton deceassed, they farther saye, And first the said Thomas Cholwill for himselfe severally say[e]th that the said Thomas Docton nowe deceased, about the beginning of the moneth of November in the sixteenth yeare of his maiest[ie]s raigne over England, fell sicke of the sickness whereof afterwards on the fiveteenth daye of the same moneth in the morning of the said daye he dyed as this defend[an]t veryely beleeveth.

And in the tyme of his sayd sickness, namely the Friday before he dyed, the said Thomas Docton did request this defend[an]t to write his last will & testament, and did himselfe give this defend[an]t directions that his said wife should be his executrix, and what he would give to her for & dureing the terme of her life by his last will & testament, and what he would give unto the sayd defend[an]t Thomas Docton & his heires, & what unto the said John Docton in the said Bill of Comp[lain]t named, and for some Legacyes to be given to his servants.

And there being noe convenient place in the Bedchamber of the said Thomas Docton, for this defend[an]t Thomas Cholwell to write the said will, he this defend[an]t went into another roome of the said house to write the same.

And being there writing the same, the other defend[an]t Henry Brayley & some others did come & relate & bring unto him the said defend[an]t Thomas Cholwell directions as from the mouth of the said Mr Docton concerning the residue of the legacyes mentioned in the said will, and they did saye & report unto this defend[an]t being writing the said will, that they received the said sev[er]all directions from the said Thomas Docton deceased & that his pleasure was that the same should be sett downe in his said will, w[hi]ch this defend[an]t giveing credit unto and veryly beleeveing he did write the said will according to the said directions, w[hi]ch he received from the said Thomas Docton deceased as aforesaid, w[i]thout any voluntary omission of any legacye or addition of any other legacy or other thing other then matter of forme onely; w[hi]ch when he had written accordingly he did deliver the same to the other defend[an]ts Henry Brayley.

And he & the said Henry Brayley did goe together w[i]th the said Will to the said Thomas Docton, and the said Henry Brayley did reade the said will to the said Thomas Docton. And before he reade the same, the said defend[an]t Henry Brayley said to the said Thomas Docton, that his will was ready, or his will was written, or words to that effect, & demanded of him if he would heare the same reade, who annswerred, ‘yea’, and sayd (call or take wittnesses enough [some words erased here].

And when he the said Thomas Docton, had heard the said will reade, this defend[an]t Thomas Cholwell asked him whether his will was written according to his owne mynde & likeing, and he annswerred ‘yea’, and then he did signe & seale the same, & at the same tyme he being asked by this defend[an]t if he would acknowledg[e] the same to be his last will & testament, he annswerred ‘yea’, what els[e].

And this defend[an]t further say[e]th that yt is true that when the said Mr Docton did signe the said will, this defend[an]t did grind his hands to the place where he made his signe. But the said Mr Docton himselfe did hold the pen w[i]thout the helpe of this defend[an]t or of any other.

And he this defend[an]t Thomas Cholwell further say[e]th that the said Henry Brayley did reade the said will to the said Thomas Docton truely as the same was & is w[i]thout any omission or addition to this defend[an]ts understanding, or as he did then or doth not concerne or beleeve in his conscience, and he also say[e]th that the said Thomas Docton (when he did give derection to this defend[an]t for the makeing of his said will & allsoe when the same was reade unto him & when he did signe & acknowledge same as aforesaid) was of a good & disposing memory as this defend[an]t then concerved & doth veriely beleeve in his conscience.

And he the said Thomas Docton did willingly signe seale & acknowledge same.

And this defend[an]t did not then nor at any tyme before in his sicknes proive any imp[er]fection of memory in him.

And he farther say[e]th that in the morning of the said daye wherein he made his last will being Friday, he had speech w[i]th one Richard Prust concerning a lease w[hi]ch he had promised to make unto the said Prust, and alsoe concerning another lease to one Stapledon, & he did speake very sensibly concerning the said leases, and sayd to the said Prust that yt was great reason that he should have the lease, for that he had received his money long before and did then seale & deliver the same lease unto the said Prust accordingly. And the said lease to the said Stapledon being to be made to the said Stapledons sonne who was then absent, the said Thomas Docton did direct that yt should be delivered to the father to the use of the said Stapledon the sonne w[hi]ch was likewise done accordingly.

And he did alsoe the same daye seale divers other leases, some of w[hi]ch he did seale after he had sealed the said last will, one of w[hi]ch leases (made to one John Bishop) being reade unto him, he did demand for what tearme the said lease was. And annswerre being made that yt was for foure score & nyneteene yeares if the said Bishop should live soe longe, he made annswerre soe yt must be, or to that effect).

All which reasons and circumstances & many others, doe induce this defend[an]t to thinke & veriely to beleeve in his conscience that the said Thomas Docton, when he made & acknowledged his said last will & gave directions for the same, was of a p[er]fect & disposing memory & well knowe & understood what he did direct & doe.

And concerning the writing w[hi]ch is supposed by the said Bill of Compl[ain]t to have beene tendered by this defend[an]t to the said Thomas Docton then ready ingrossed whereby the said Thomas Docton gave the inheritance of certayne lands to this defend[an]t Thomas Cholwell, this defend[an]t for annswerre thereunto say[e]th that the said Thomas Docton in the tyme of his health before the sickness whereof he dyed, did purchase the inheritance of divers lands in Hartland of one Seccombe in a p[ar]te whereof this defend[an]ts wife Elizabeth Deymond her mother had an estate for their lives, Att the tyme of w[hi]ch purchase or shortly after, yt was agre[e]d between the said Thomas Docton & that defend[an]t, that this defend[an]t should have the inheritance of the said p[ar]te in the said lands for eight pounds, and that one Charles Yeo & John Crang should alsoe have the inheritance of other p[ar]cells of the said land, and the assurance unto the said Yeo & Crang was made accordingly, and the assurance to this defend[an]t Thomas Cholwell was p[ro]vided? & allowed of by the said Thomas Docton in his health, but was not sealed by reason that this defend[an]t did not call uppon the same untill the Thursdaye before he the said Mr Docton dyed, Att w[hi]ch tyme he did seale the same, w[hi]ch was the writing intended by the said Bill of Compl[ain]t as this defend[an]t doth conceive for this defend[an]t did not tender any other unto him the said Docton.

And at that tyme the said Thomas Docton was of good & p[er]fect memory, & when he had sealed the same, he did demand where the money was w[hi]ch this defend[an]t had agreed to give for the same, whereof this defend[an]t had before delivered to the said Henry Brayley five pounds w[i]th promise to paye the rest shortly after, w[hi]ch when the said Thomas Docton was informed of by the said Henry Brayley, he sayd yt is well & was contended therew[i]th.

And this defend[an]t Thomas Cholwell further say[e]th that neyther the said Alice Docton, nor the said defend[an]t Docton, nor any of them did at anytime anie or promise to give to this defend[an]t Thomas Cholwell or to any other to his knowledge any money reward or other thing for makeing or writing of the said will.

And he the said defend[an]t Thomas Cholwell alsoe say[e]th that the sayd Alice Docton did not at any tyme by waye of corruption give or profer unto him the said Cholwell any money or reward whatsoever.

And he this defend[an]t Thomas Cholwell further say[e]th that the said defend[an]t Thomas Docton did never make any meanes at all to this defend[an]t, nor to any other to his knowledg[e], to worke or procure the said Mr Docton to give unto him the said or any p[ar]te thereof.

And this defend[an]t Henry Brayley for himselfe sev[er]ally sayeth that the said Thomas Docton in the presence of this defend[an]t & of Alice Docton his late wife & of the other defend[an]ts Henry Keyne & Phillip Bishop, did himselfe give directions to the other defent[an]t Thomas Cholwell for the makeing of his will. And amongst other things did direct that Alice his wife should be his executrix & should have all his estate dureing her life.

And the said Thomas Docton did there likewise give directions to the said Cholwell what should be given to the said defend[an]ts Thomas Docton and his heires males, & the said John Docton named in ye said Bill of Compl[ain]t and forom(?) any other legacyes devised to his servants, But the said Cholwell being gone into the next roome to write the said will, & having begonne to write the same, the said Thomas Docton now deceased did give divers directions for divers other legacies mentioned in the said will besides w[hi]ch he had acquaynted the said Thomas Cholwell w[hi]ch before, w[i]th this defend[an]t & some others, then present did relaie to the said Thomas Cholwell, & did tell him that yt was ye will of ye said Mr Thomas Docton, that the same should be putt into his said last will.

And after the said Thomas Cholwell had written the said will he did deliv[e]r the same to this defend[an]t Henry Brayley & willed him this defend[an]t to reade the same to the said Thomas Docton.

And the said Thomas Cholwell & this defend[an]t & both togeather went w[i]th the said will to the said deceased Thomas Docton, & this defend[an]t Brayley told him that his will was ready or to that effect, & asked him whether he would heare yt reade, wherunto the said Thomas Docton sayd ‘yea’, & then turning himselfe in his bed towards the people in the same chamber said: take wittnesses enough, or where are more witnesses, or words to that effect.

And then this defend[an]t reade the said will truely to the said Thomas Docton as the same then was & now. And upon this defendant had read the the same, the said defend[an]ts Thomas Cholwell asked of the said Thomas Docton whether it were wording to his mynde, to w[hi]ch the said Thomas Docton annswerred ‘yea’. Then this defend[an]t Cholwell asked him further whether he would acknowledg[e] it to be his will, to w[hi]ch annswerred ‘I doe acknowledge it’, or to that effect.

And afterwards the said Mr Docton haveing signed & sealed the same was demanded again by the said defend[an]t Cholwell if he would publishe the same to be his last will & testament, whereunto the sayd Mr Docton annswerred ‘yea’, what els[e].

And this defend[an]t Brayley farther say[e]th that he doth verily think in his conscience that the said Thomas Docton, when he did give directions for the said will, and when the same was read unto him, and when he did sign and seale and publish the same, was of a good and disposing memory, which this defend[an]t is the better [?]~~uted to believe, for that in the morning of the same daye that he did make the said will, and also presently after the making and publishing thereof, he did seale divers leases concerning which he did aske divers questions & gave directions, & namely he did direct that a lease w[hic]h he made the same daye a little before he made his sayd will unto one Stapledon the sonne, should be deliv[er]ed to Stapledon the father who who was then present to the use of the said Stapledons sonne.

And when the same was sealed he did alsoe give direction that an indorsement should be made uppon the backe of the said deede to that purpose, and that the witnesses should write their names to the said Indorsment.

And when the said Mr Docton now deceased, did give direction for his said will, he did direct this defend[an]t to fetch unto the said defend[an]t Cholwell a ffyne w[hi]ch he had levied of his lands before the Lord Anderson, & he did tell & direct this defend[an]t where he should have the same. And this defend[an]t did fynde the same where the said Thomas Docton had said it was, w[hic]h fyne this defend[an]t did deliver to the said other defend[an]t Thomas Cholwell, for his better direction for the p[ar]ticulers of the lands of the said Thomas Docton conteyned in that fyne.

And the said Thomas Docton deceased, being alsoe desired by Phillipe Bishop one other of the defend[an]ts, when he gave directions for his said Bill that he would give the inheritance of his lands in Appledore to her sonne John, he made annswerre: he should have yt for his life & that after his decease, it should remayne to his name. And being earnestly intreated by the said Alice Docton & by Phillip Bishop to give divers severall things to divers severall p[er]sons, he would by now means be persuaded hereunto.

And he being alsoe intreated to give some p[ar]te of his lands to Alice his wife & to her heires, he made annswerre that she should have yt but for her life, & would by noe meanes consent to give yt to her heires.

And request being there alsoe made unto him that he would give to the defend[an]t Cholwell the inheritance of certayne lands called Henaford, he made annswerre that it was his anncient lande, and that it should not goe out of his name. And then request being made unto him to give to the said Cholwell a lease of certayne other lands he made annswerre that yt was too great a guift.

And after he had made the codicil, he signed sealed & deliv]er]ed foue(?) severall leases, and did move some questions & annswerres concerning the same sensibly & w[i]th good understanding to this defend[an]ts judgment, wherefore & for many other reasons this defend[an]t Henry Brayley is veriely p[ur]swaded in his conscience, that he the said Thomas Docton was of p[er]fect memory & understanding when he made the said will.

And he further say[e]th that neither the defend[an]t Thomas Docton, nor the said Alice Docton did make any meanes by themselves or eyther of them or by any other to his this defend[an]ts knowledge to procure the said Mr Docton to devise his says lands or any p[ar]t thereof to them the said defend[an]t Thomas Docton & Alice Docton or to eyther of them, nor yet do he this defend[an]t thinke that the said defend[an]t Docton or he said Mris Docton or any other or their or eyther of their behalfes, did use any inderect meanes to seduce the said Thomas Docton to disinherit the said compl[ainan]ts of all or any p[ar]te of his said lands.

But he this defend[an]t Henry Brayley doth verily think that that w[hi]ch the said Thomas Docton gave from the said compl[ainan]ts was of his owne mynde & that he did the same freely & according to his will & meaning.

And concerning the Codicill or writing purporting a codicill or addition supposed to have beene drawen upp by the said defend[an]t Thomas Cholwell, for annswerre thereunto both these defend[an]ts saye that (after the said Thomas Docton had signed sealed & published his said last will, & even as the wittnesses were ready to subscribe their names thereunto, & before they had subscribed to the same) one Nicholas Velly came to this defend[an]t Cholwell, where he byd others & were present in or about the subscription of their names as wittesses to the said will, being then in the same roome where yt was first written, & sayd unto this Cholwill of that there was something omitted out of the said last will, w[hi]ch should have beene given to his Aunt Docton, meaning the said Alice Docton, w[hi]ch were certayne lands in Gawlish & Tychbury, and a mill called Blackpoole Mill, whereuppon these defend[an]ts & others then present giveing creditt thereunto this defend[an]t Thomas Cholwell, in the presence of the rest did make a draught in writing in paper contyning a devise of the said lands by the said Thomas Docton to the said Alice Docton & to her heires, w[hi]ch writing was annexed to the said Will betweene the two former sheetes thereof.

And then these defend[an]ts & others, w[hi]ch were present when the said Thomas Docton did publish the saide last will as aforesaid, went agayne to the said Thomas Docton now deseased, and this defend[an]t Thomas Cholwell did saye unto the said Thomas Docton, these or the like words: Sir, heere is something forgotten out of your Will, w[hi]ch I am informed your mynde is should have been putt in, will you be pleased to heare yt reade, who annswerred ‘yea’, whereuppon this defend[an]t Thomas Cholwell did read the same unto him, and did aske whether his mynde was that yt should be soe, who annswerred ‘noe’. And being requested by some there present that he would consent thereunto, he refused for to doe, whereupon this defend[an]t Thomas Cholwell in presence of the wife(?) did take a waye agayne the said drawught in pap[er] from the said Will, & did w[i]th the helpe of one Thomas Dungey fasten & sowe the said Will together agayne as yt was before in the same worde & order as yt was, when the said Thomas Docton did signe & publishe the same, w[i]thout any omission or addition or other alteration thereof or of any p[ar]te thereof. All w[hi]ch was done in the presence of of all those that have subscribed their names to the said Will.

And then these defend[an]ts & others, w[hi]ch were present & had seene the said Thomas Docton signe seale & publish the said Will did subscribe their names to the said Will w[hi]ch Will or writing whereunto these defend[an]ts & others have subscribed their names as aforesaid, is the true will of the said Thomas Docton & the same w[i]thout any alteration whatsoever, w[hi]ch the said Thomas Docton did signe seale & publishe to be his last will, whereunto these defend[an]ts for more certaynety therein doe referre themselves.

And the said Henry Brayley further sa[e]th that the said Alice Docton in her life tyme did give to him this defend[an]t (haveing served the Mr Docton eight yeares) some recompence & reward for his service.

And in regard of a marriage then intended & sythence had between this defend[an]t & Emme Bishop her kinswoman, but he utterly denyeth that she did give him any reward or guift for or concerning the said last will or for his testimony touching the same.

And he further say[e]th that neyther the said defend[an]t Thomas Docton, nor any other on his behalf, or on the behalfe of the other defend[an]ts, hath nor have given or promised to give to this defend[an]t any guift or reward at all for or concerning the said Will, nor never had any speech at all w[i]th him this defend[an]t concerning the same, or to or for any such intent or purpose as in & by the said Bill of Compl[ain]t is untruely alleadged.

But this defend[an]t Thomas Cholwell say[e]th that the said compl[ainan]t Baglehole did at two sundry tymes deale & preate w[i]th this defend[an]t touching the said Will, & offered to give unto him this defend[an]t a hundred pownds for that this defend[an]t would promise to saye nothing concerning the same will, sayeing afferming to this defend[an]t, That then he would blowe upp the said defend[an]t Thomas Docton or words to that effect w[hi]ch this defend[an]t refused to accept of.

And these defend[an]ts severally deny that they or eyther of them did acknowledge or confesse a combination or forgery in the said Bill mentioned, or had at any tyme heretofore accused one another or due, or did seeke to excuse themselges by annse[r]ing the rest of them as in & by the said Bill of Compl[ain]t is untruely alleadged.

And this defend[an]t Thomas Cholwell alsoe denye that he this defend[an]t did speake or saye to the said Thomas Dungey, that the said Thomas Docton was in such weakenes & extremitye of sicknes that he was utterly unable to settle his estate, or that he this defend[an]t Cholwell would venture to make a will of his goods for the good of the old gentlewoman, or words to that or any such effect or purpose, as in & by the said Bill of Compla[ain]t is untruely alleadged.

And he alsoe say[e]th that he this defend[an]t did not deliv[er?] or offer to the said Alice Docton, any note of this defendents debts to the end that she should paye or discharge the same, neyther did the said Alice wish or will him soe to doe.

And this defend[an]t doth denye that he this defend[an]t did refuse to suffer the wittnesses who were present to sett their hands to every sheete of the said Will, for this defend[an]t did wish & desire the same.

And as to all & every the plotts practised combinations forgeryes & other misdemeanoures as by the said Bill of Compl[ain]t is charged uppon these defend[an]ts or eyther of them, they saie & eyther of for himselfe severally say[e]th, that they are not guilty of them nor of any of them, in such manner & forme as in & by the said Bill of Compl[ain]t is alleadged.

All which matters & things these defend[an]ts & eyther of them are ready to averre & prove as this most hono[ura]ble court shall award, and doe most humbly praye to be hence dismissed w[i]th their reasonable costs in that behalfe wrongfully susteyned.

Signed: Nich. Duck

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The Decision:

The decision of this court is not contained in these documents.
However, from examination of later land ownership, it appears that the complainants’ case was dismissed, and Thomas Docton of Wellisford retained possession of these bequests.

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