Will of Sir Thomas Berry, of Northam, Devon
Written 1697, proved 1698
From original document in Devon Record Office ref: W 2422 M/F14
Transcribed by David Carter 2017
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Will of Sir Thomas Berry of Northam, brother of Johanna or Joanna Melhuish.
Dated 28 April 1697.
In the name of God amen.
The eight and twentieth day of April in the yeare or our Lord God one thousand six hundred ninety and seaven.
I Sir Thomas Berry of Northam in the County of Devon Knight being weake of body, butt of sound and perfect memory thanks be to God for the same, doe make and orddaine this my last will and testament in manner and forme following.
First I bequeath my soul unto the hands of Almighty God my creator from whom I received itt trusting assuredly through the meritts and mediation of Jesus my sole Redeemer that my sinnes are pardoned and that I shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens and my body to Christian buriall. And for all my worldly estate and goods wherewith itt hath pleased Almighty God to blesse me in this world and not heretofore or herwise settled by my ancestors I doe devise and bequeath the same in manner following, that is to say:
I give devise and bequeath my Barton of Higher & Lower Eastrop in the parish of Westleigh in the County aforesaid togeather with my mannor of Westleigh and all other my lands lying within the saide parish of Westleigh as alsoe all my lands in Fremington called Knowlhill(?) Ammers(?) Downe and all other my lands within the saide parishe of Fremington which were not the lands of Mr Anthony Berry late of Instow [torn] deceased unto my nearest kinsman George Berry of Braunton in the County aforesaide gent and to the heire males of his body lawfully begotten or to be begotten, and for what of such issue then to the sonne of Edward Berry of Northam aforesaid and to the heire males of his body lawfully begotten or to be begotten, and for want of such issue then to Phillip Berry the sonne of Phillips Berrye of Lobb in Braunton aforesaid and to the heires males of his body lawfully begotten or to be begotten, and for want of such issue then to Nicholas Berry the sonne of Phillip Berry the elder of Lobb aforesaid and to the heires males of his body lawfully begotten or to be begotten, and for want of such issue then to Anthony Berry the sonne of Lewes Berry of Bideford in the county aforesaid and to the heires males of his body lawfully begotten, and for want of such issue then to such Berry as shall be living and rightfully possessed of Lobb aforesaid and to the heirs males of his body lawfully begotten or to be begotten, and for want of such issue to the right heirs of me the saide Sir Thomas Berry for ever.
My Barton of Seccombe with its rights members & appurtenances lying in the parishes of Bradwodwiger or Thrushelton or elsewhere in the county aforesaide I give devise and bequeath unto my kinsman Thomas French and to his heirs for ever.
My Barton of land and all other my lands lying in the parish of Wolfardisworthy with the appurtenances I give devise and bequeath unto my kinsman Henry Rolle and to the heires males of his body lawfully begotten or to be begotten and for want of such issue to the right heirs of me the saide Sir Thomas Berry for ever.
All my lands and inheritance which I have or ought to have in the mannor of Roseashe als Ash Ralph in the county aforesaide with its rights members and appurtenances and also all my lands lying in the parishe of Mounck Okehampton with the appurtenances I give devise and bequeath the same unto my kinsman Henry Downe of Barnstaple and to his heires for ever.
All my lands in Ilfracombe with its rights members and appurtenances I give devise and bequeath unto Thomas Berry the sonne of my cosen John Berry of Berrinarbor and to the heirs males of his body lawfully begotten or to be begotten and for want of such issue to the right heires of me the saide Sir Thomas Berry for ever.
I give and bequeath unto my friend Mr Richard Gold~~t [faded in crease] an annuity or yearly rent charge of tenn pounds per annum of lawfull money of England for the terme of his life and alsoe one other annuity or yearly rent charge of six pounds per annum of like lawfull money of England to Henry Witson of Northam aforesaid marriner for the terme of his life and likewise one other annuity or yearly rent charge of five pounds per annum to my cousen Phillip Dennis of Northam aforesaid gent for the terme of his life all which to be issueing and giving forth yearly of my messuage and tenement called Ryley in Northam aforesaid with the appurtenances and payable to them respectively by quarterly payments in even portions during the respective termes foresaid the first payment thereof to be made att the end of the first three months next after the day of my death And I doe hereby charge the saide messuage and tenement with the appurtenances with the said annuities and itt is my will that the same be paide accordingly, but if default of payment thereof be made as the same shall become due and ought to be paide to them then inpervil(?) farther is and I doe hereby give them and everye of them respectively full power and authority as much as in me lyes to enter into the saide messuage & tenement with the appurtenances and to leuie(?) theire particular annuityes aforesaid by distress from time to time as there shall be occasion.
All my lands lying in the parishe of Inwardleighe in the county aforesaid with its rights members & appurtenances I give & bequeath unto my said kinsman Thomas French beforenamed and his heirs for ever.
All the rest of my goods and chattles not before given nor bequeathed I doe give and bequeath unto my dear sister Johane Melhuish whome I doe make and ordaine to be the full and whole executrix of this my last will and testament and doe thereby revoke all former & other wills & testaments whatsoever by me heretofore made either by word or in writing whatsoever, but my will farther is and I doe hereby give and bequeath unto my cosen Anne Vigures the one moiety or halfendeale of all my household goods bedding furniture and implements of household stuff & husbandrye now remaining att Eastley notwithstanding any bequest herein before mentioned or intended by me and itt is my desire that sheee (sic) shall have and enjoye the same accordingly without trouble, and I doe farther add & provide by this my last will that the said Henry Rolle & the heires males of his boby shall out of the lands called Lane hereinbefore devised in manner as aforesaide pay unto his brother Alexander Rolle the sume of twelve pounds per annum by quarterly payments during the terme of natural life of him the said Alexander for his maintenance without any deduction and doe hereby charge the said premises called Lane with the same dureing the saide terme notwithstanding the device aforesaid to the saide Henry.
Signed: Thomas Berry
Signed sealed published and declared by the saide Sir Thomas Berry to be his last will and testament this seaventh day of May in the year of our Lord God 1697 in the presence of us:
John Clifton, William Thomas, Tho: Prust, Ephraim Harris.
I Sir Thomas Berry of Northam in the county of Devon Knight having heretofore made and published my last will and testament in writing bearing date the eight and twentieth day of April in the yeare of our Lord God one thousand six hundred ninety and seaven or about that time doe ratife confirme all things therein contained butt since that time upon farther consideration have thought fit to add by way of Codocill thereunto and that this my codicil be taken as a parte thereof to all intents and purposes whatsoever by me made & declared this seaventeenth day of June in the yeare of our Lord God one thousand six hundred ninetye and eight as followeth.
I give and bequeath unto Mary daughter of my nephew Thomas French of Tradidon in Cornwall three hundred pounds of lawfull money of England to be paide her att her day of marriage, but if shee happen to dye unmarried then I give and bequeath the same to her sisters if any att the time of her death equally to be devided amongst them att their respective dayes of marriage videl’t(?), to each of them her equall proportion thereof. But if noe such sisters then I give & bequeath the same unto the said Thomas French their father.
I give to Susanna the now wife of James Christmas of Barnestaple my kinswoman one hundred pounds and to Honoria the wife of William Reyner one hundred & fifty pounds more provided neverthelesse and my will farther is that in case she happen to dye and leave children behind her that then this one hundred and fifty pounds shall be putt out for the benefit of such children and both principle and interest shall be equally devided amongst them.
I give to Elizabeth Rolle fifty pounds and to her sister Mary two hundred pounds of lawfull money of England.
I give to Elianor the daughter of William Barbor my God daughter one hundred pounds of like lawfull money of England.
I give unto James Watson vicar of Northam aforesaide or to such other personas shall be viccar there att the time of my death five pounds and to the poore of the said parishe the tenn pounds which lyeth in John Heales hands of the said parishe.
I give to my servants John Bevins and Richard Hanger five pounds a peece and to Katherine Jones and Margarett Stevens forty shillings a peece provided they continue with me at the time of my decease.
I give unto Edward Watts of London marchant and his now wife one hundred pounds a peece.
Whereof I have by deeds granted and made over all my messuages lands & tenements with the appurtenances called Higher and Lower Eastlye lying in the parish of Westleigh for divers numbers of yeares to friends in trust for Ann the late wife of Balthazar Vigures deceased determinable on her own death and the death of Frances Vigures her daughter my will farther is and I doe hereby declare that it is my true intent and meaning that the same messuages lands & tenements with the appurtenances shall upon my death be peaceably held and enjoyed by the saide Ann her executors administrators & assignes dureing the termes & estates before mentioned without any molestation or denial of any person or persons whatsoever, And that if any of the Berries on whome I have before in this my will setled the same doe or shall by any way or meanes whatsoever molest or trouble her the said Ann or her executors administrators or assignes in the peaceable holding & enjoyment of the same dureing the continuance of the saide estates by me granted as aforesaid that then the device & devices aforesaid to any of the saide Berryes shall be null and voide to all intents & purposes whatsoever as well to themselves as to theire heires and that then the reversion and inheritance of all & singular the saide messuages of lands & tenements called Higher and Lower Eastleigh shall discend and come after the deathes of her the saide Anne and of the saide Frances her daughter unto the right heires of me the saide Sir Thomas Berry for ever anything in my saide will contained to the contrarye notwithstanding.
Signed: Thomas Berry
This codicill was signed sealed and published by the saide Sir Thomas Berry the day and yeare aforesaid and to the saide Will annexed in the presence of us:
[one name lost in crease], Anthony Nicholls, John Benin(?), John Clifton.
Proved at Exeter 26th December 1698, granted to Joanna Melhuish sole executrix.
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From Northam Burial Registers:
Sir Thomas Berry, died 3rd November 1698, buried 10th November 1698.
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From History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983:
Sir Thomas Berry - Second but first surviving son of John Berry of Estleigh by Mary, daughter and co-heir of William Leigh of Burrough. Married Mary the daughter of William Martin of Lindridge, Bishop’s Teignton, and co-heir to her brother William. Knighted 18 July 1671; succeeded his father 1674.
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From Illustrated History of Appledore, vol.3, by David Carter:
In April 1692, Sir Thomas Berry sold the Manor of Northam to his brother-in-law, Thomas Melhuish of Watertown for £1,000. So started a Melhuish dynasty that would last for three generations in Appledore, and leave a complicated legal legacy which was not resolved until the 1970s.
Sir Thomas Berry inherited Borough House and the Manor of Northam from his wife’s family, the Leighs. He was knighted in 1671, and elected as MP for Totnes in 1673 after a by-election. His pompous-looking Latin monument describes him as "a faithful servant of King and Country and deservedly well-known in Parliament and the law courts". However, as an MP he made no speeches, sat on no committees, hardly ever attended Parliament, was called “twice vile” by Lord Shaftesbury, and failed to get re-elected. He died on 3rd November 1698, aged 66.
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Monument to Sir Thomas Berry on wall of Northam Parish Church:
Meritissime Fecere Conspicuum Et in Senatu Et in Foro Judiciali Regi Fuit Patriaeqs Servus Perfidelis Fuit Etiam Ejusdem Nobiscum Ecclae Anglicanae Membrum Pientissimum Sub Eadem Felicis Resurrectionis Spe Eandem Domini Jesu Praestolans Epiphaniam Post Varias Corporis Infirmitates Et Tardam Aegritudinem A Terris in Aulam Migravit Caelestem Nullo Non Dignus Elogio Eo Vero Dignior Quod Humillime Senullo -Dignum Aestim Averit Quiequid Mortale Fuit Deposuit Tertio Die Mensis Novembris.
Which translates roughly as:
He was deservedly well known in Parliament and the lawcourt and a most faithful servant of king and country. He was also a most pious member of our Anglican church. In the hope of resurrection through our Lord Jesus, and looking to the second coming. After various infirmities of the body and a long illness he migrated from the earth to the heavenly court. There is none more worthy of this true inscription. Which honour all respectfully thought him worthy and deposited his mortal remains on the third day of November.
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