Last Will and Testament
Henry Bridgewater, Gentleman
of Burghfield, Berkshire, England
18 August 1599


Vern Paul, 2003
The Bridgewater Registe
r
Dublin, Ireland
Los Angeles, California

The Last Will and Testament of Henry Bridgewater, Gentleman, of Burghfield, Berkshire, England, 18 August 1599, [Prerogative Court of Canterbury 1584-1604, 74 Kidd; see also Archdeacon of Berks, A Calendar of Berkshire Wills and Administrations, 1508 to 1652, Vol. 3, ad. J. 432] supports Henry's relationship to Samuel Bridgewater of Sulhampstead Abbots, Berkshire, England [1637-1655]; London, England [1655-1662/1669]; and Henrico Co., Virginia [1662/1669(1670)-1708].

Henry Bridgewater's link to American Bridgewaters may be established through his nephew, Thomas Bridgewater of Sulhampstead Abbots, Berkshire, England. Thomas was likely the son of Henry's brother, John Bridgewater, and was either the father or grandfather of the immigrant Samuel Bridgewater who was baptized 20 September 1637 in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Sulhampstead Abbots parish [Sulhampstead Abbots Parish Register, Berks., n.p.]. The question lies in the parish register wherein all the early Bridgewater baptisms are of children of "Thomas Bridgewater" with no distinction between Thomas (the elder) or Thomas (the younger). Samuel Bridgewater was the last baptism in the early Sulhampstead Abbots parish records and without additional evidence, it is not clear which of the two Thomas Bridgewaters is his father, or if the younger Thomas had any children at all.

Henry's heirs named in his will were: his "good Ladie the Ladie Norris", his son "Skynner", his brother John Bridgewater; his sisters Jane [no last name given], Elizabeth [no last name given], and Elizabeth Phipston; his nephews John Bridgewater, Thomas Bridgewater, and John Dale; and his neices, Frances Marbadge and Margery Williams. Other devisees were household staff and employees: Moore (his workman), Nycholas Jenynges, John Falkner, Edmond Brewer, Alice (his servant, no last name given), Joane Kent, George Stafferton (his "bedfellow"), Richard Burget, and Francis Falkner.

George Stafferton and Richard Sannders were "overseers" of the will, while Henry's brother, John Bridgewater was the executor.

Some of these family names are prominent in the history of the manor of Greyshull, Greisley or Grazeley, where Thomas Bridgwater [the nephew] and his wife are buried, in the parish of Sulhampstead Abbots. The manor was granted to Sir John Williams in 1541 [L. and P. Hen. VIII, xvi, g.779(21)]. In 1560, the year after Lord Williams' death, Grazeley was granted to Anthony Forster and Anthony Butler to hold for the use of Nicholas Williams in tail-mail. Nicholas was the son of Reginald Williams, the elder brother of Lord Williams, [Visit. of Berks. (Harl. Soc.) I, 58.] and at the time of his death in 1568, his widow Mabel claimed a third of the manor in dower . [B.M. Add. MS. 28664, fol. 384.]. He left no sons, and the manor reverted after the division of Lord Williams' property to Lord [Henry] Norreys (1525-1601) and his wife Margery [Williams] (d. 1599), [Feet of F. Berks. Hil. 12 Eliz.] who granted a lease on a farm called Jennings in Grazeley to Mabel and her second husband Sir Reade Stafford in compoistion for her dower. [B.M. Add. MS. 28664, fol. 384.]

There should be little doubt that a relationship exists between Henry Bridgewater and Lord Henry Norreys, but the exact nature remains to be discovered.

Henry's devised estate consisted of 370 10s in Lawfull English Money, 1 white gelding, 6 working oxen, 16 cows, and 1 heifer calf, and 9 bushels of wheat; silver table items; feather beds, linens, suits of clothing, and household "stuffe" remaining. His son, Skynner, received a "little silver cupp", and Henry's "good Ladie" a chest of linen standing in his study.

A transcript of the will reads:

In the name of god Amen: The Eightene daye of Auguft in the fforteth and one yeare of the raigne of or Soveraigne Ladie Elizabeth by the grace of god of England ffrannce and Ireland Queene defender of the ffayth &c and in the yeare of or Lord god a thovofand ffyve hundred nynetie and nyne; I Henry Bridgewater of Burfield in the Countie of Berks gent, beinge ficke of Bodye but of good and pperfecte memory thanks be unto Almightie god doe ordaine and make thys my laft will and Testament in manner and forme followinge. That is to saye, ffirst and before all thinges I commend my soule into the mercifull hands of God the ffather my maker. To Jesus Christ my redeemer, and the holy ghost my comforter, my bodie I commend unto the Earth from whence yt came to be buried in the Chancellry parishe church of Sulhampftead Abbots. Item I gyve unto the poore of Sulhampfteade Abbots the fome of ffyve poundes of Lawfull Englifh money to be diftributed unto them at the daye of my buryall by Nicholas Skynner. Item I gyve unto the poore of Burfeilde the fome of ffyve poundes to be diftributed unto them at the daye of my buriall by Mr Richard Moore the elder. Item I gyve and bequeath unto my Syfter Elizabeth ffiftie poundes of Lawfull Englifh money and two feather beds furnifhed and ffouere payre of fheetes; Item I gyve and bequeath unto my Syfter Jane fortie poundes of Lawfull Englifhe money. Item I gyve and bequeath unto my Syfter Elizabeth Phipfton Thirtie poundes of Lawfull Englifh money; Item I gyve and bequeath unto my Nephew John Bridgewater Twentie poundes of Lawfull Englisfh money; Item I gyve and bequeath unto my Nephew John Dale ffyftie poundes of Lawfull Englisfh money, Item I gyve and bequeath unto my Nephew Thomas Bridgewater ffyftie poundes of Lawfull Englisfh money, Item I gyve and bequeath unto my Neece ffrances Marbage threefcore poundes of Lawfull Englisfh money, Item I gyve and bequeath unto Margery Williams my Neece ffiftie poundes of Lawfull Englisfhe money, Item I gyve unto Moore my workeman a Cowe, Item I gyve unto Nycholas Jenynges a Cowe, Item I gyve unto John ffalkner a Cowe a fute of my worfer Appell and three poundes in money. Item I gyve unto Edmond Brewer my servant a Cowe a fute of my worfer Appell and three poundes in money. Item I gyve unto Alice my Srvannte ffoure poundes of Lawfull Englifh money and a heifer Calfe. Item I gyve unto Joane Kent Tenn fhillinges of Lawfull money. Item I gyve and bequeath unto my Nephewes Thomas Bridgewater and John Dale all my houfhold ftuffe of what Condition fo ever yt be equally to be devided betwene them within one month after my deceafe excepte the two ffether bedds ffurnifhed and fouere paire of fheets before given and bequeathed; Item I gyve and bequeath unto John Bridgewater my brother my beft fylver falte parcell gylte, Item I gyve and bequeath unto Thomas Bridgewater my Nephewe a fylver Tankerd parcell gylt; Item I gyve and bequeath unto my bedfellow Mr George Stafferton my fylver Crewet. Item I gyve and bequeath unto Richard Burget a fylver Bowle; Item I gyve and bequeath unto my fonne Skynner a little fylver Cupp - Item I gyve unto Thomas Bridgewater my Nephewe fix fylver fpoones with pictures one thende Item I gyve unto John Dale my Nephewe fix fylver fpoones; Item I gyve and bequeath unto Nicholas Jenynges and Moore my workeman three bufhells of Wheat apeece; Item I gyve unto ffrancis ffalkner a Cowe and three bufhells of Wheat; Item I gyve and bequeath unto John Bridgewater my fix worken oxen; Item I gyve unto John Dale my Nephew two keyne Item I gyve unto Thomas my Nephewe Thomas Bridgewater Nyne keyne; Item I gyve and bequeath unto John Dale my Nephewe my White geldinge; Item all my other goodes moveables and unmoveables whatfoever not geven nor bequeathed I gyve and bequeath unto John Bridgewater my brother whome I ordaine and make my fole executor of thys my Laft will and Teftament, Item I appoynt Mr George Stafferton and Mr Richard Sannders overfeers of thys my Laft will and Teftament, hopinge that they Will have an efpeciall Care to fee my laft will and Teftament if formed accordinge to the truft repofed in them, In witnes wherof I have here unto fette my hand and feale the daye and yeare firft above written;

Henry Bridgewater; Sealed and delyvered in the prefence of vs: Hy Sannders. Nicholas Skynner. John Dale. Symun Edmunds Brewer.

My meaninge and intent is that all fuch Legacies and bequefts which I have gyven and bequeathed to be paide with my debts unto them to whome they are geven with as convenient fpeede as the cann be gathered and recovered by me Executor. Item I gyve and bequeath unto my ho: good Ladie the Ladie Norris the cheft of Lyninge ftandinge in my Study.

The will was followed by a standard MORBATUM in Latin.