Shapcott Wills





B.   The Will of John Shapcott of Halberton

The original copy of this Will was destroyed when Exeter was bombed in 1942

and whilst it has been reconstructed there seems to be some parts missing.  See Notes Below.

Date of Will - 9th December  Chas I 1629

Proved 13th January 1629

and Administration granted to the Executrix.

See Note 2.    

JOHN SHAPCOTT of  HALBERTON, yeoman, in health and perfect memory.

See Note 1.

To repairs of parish church of MORCHAND CREWES - 1 s.

See Note 3.

To poor of same parish - 10 groats.    

See Note 4.

To JOHN SHAPCOTT my  son 10 when he shall accomplish the Age of 21 years.

See Note 5.

To JOHN my son the standing bedsteede perfomed with clothingein the new chamber to MORCHARD CREWES in NORTHCOTT

and my Best suit of clothes.

See Note 6.

To my god children 6d each.

To MARGARETT SHAPCOTT my sister all the money that my Father oweth me.

See Note 7.

To my father my boots.

See Note 8.   

To DANYELL SHAPCOTT my brother  -  12d.To ANNE FIGERES my sister  -  12d.

See Note 9.      

To THOMAS SHAPCOTT my  brother  -  12d.

To ELEANOR SHAPCOTT my sister  -  12d.

To my father half the rye in the Gratton to NORTHCOTT in MORCHARD CREWES and my old cloak.

See Note 10.


To JOHN SHAPCOTT my son my sword and furniture.

See Note 11.    

Residue to AGNES SHAPCOTT my wife, executrix.



and  JOHN SAUNDERS to who I give 3s 4d.


Thomas Shapcott     Jane Saunders

See Note 12.


- 28th December 1629.

Apparrell 8.   Due from Thomas Shapcott of Morchard Cruse £7-5-0d.  

See Note 13.    

Bedstead and bedding in his chamber at Morchard £1..10..0d.

Household Goods, 29 ewes, 36 lbs of wool.Sum   £36..4s..2d.

Notes  -  Relating To The Will of John Shapcott of Halberton

Note 1.

Known as John Shapcott of Halberton as he also had property there, and married Agnes Saunders in Halberton on 4th February 1625.  The property in Halberton is not mentioned in the Will.  Probably included in "residue to my wife" and may well have already been owned by Agnes who was known to have money.  The John Sanders who was appointed as an overseer and who witnessed the Will was probably Agnes’s father.  The word "health" in the opening paragraph of the Will.  Should it have read "in poor health"?  If not he must have died of other than natural causes.  Yet he must have known he was to die - otherwise why make his father an overseer and leave his father items in the Will?

Note 2.  

The reason why the date the Will was "proved" - 13th January 1629 appears to be before the date on which the will was drawn - 9th December 1629 - is that prior to 1756 the year ended on the 31st March and not the 31st December as today.  The January, February and March would today be the first three months of the following year.  Thus in the Will 13th January 1629 should in modern usage be 13th January 1630.

Note 3.

Morchard Crewes is the modern parish of Cruwys Morchard.

Note 4.

1 groat = a small silver coin worth 4d (i.e. 4 old pence).

Note 5.

Son John was in fact at the time of his father's death only 1 year old.  The Testator had had a previous son, Thomas, who died in infancy before 1629.

Note 6.  

The "standing bedsteede" was probably  a four poster bed (standing as distinct from a "truckle bed" which could easily be moved.)  The word “performed” means that the bed was complete with all its "clothinge" i.e. hangings."Apparel" was used to indicate something that could be worn. "In Northcott" suggests the name of a house or farm.

Note 7.  

His sister Margaret must have been a favourite as the money owed to the Testator by his father was £7..5s..0d  (see inventory at end of Will).

Note 8.

The Testator must have known he was dying, otherwise why appoint his father as overseer and leave him items in the Will?  This is another instance of the Will being made at the last moment before death.  The boots left to his father would be the high thigh boots made of soft Codovan goatskin and at that time very valuable.

Note 9.

Anne, the testator's sister, had married a John Figures and was living in the nearby parish of Ploughill.

Note 10.

The “rye” would be in the barn awaiting threshing (by flail).  Therefore the Will should probably read "in the Barton" not Garton, i.e. in the farm buildings at Northcott.

Note 11.

The "sword and furniture" is not a reference to chairs and tables etc but to the scabbard and shoulder belt etc which went with the sword.  At this time the belt would have been elaborately decorated.

Note 12.

This should probably read  John Sanders, one of the overseers.

Note 13.

I wonder whether there are items missing from the inventory?  Why for example is there no reference to other forms of equipment i.e. ploughs, draught animals.  These could, of course, be included in the "residue" left to wife Agnes, but if so, why were they not included in the Inventory?  The transcript of the Will does not show the testator's signature nor "his mark".Was he too ill to write?  If so again why "in health" at the beginning of the Will?

The analysis of this Will was by the late Stanley R.S. Shapcott.

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