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Will of George WINDIT of Exeter - 1581

Made: 15/06/1581, WITNESSES:  Thomas JOBSON
Proved: later revoked
SOURCE:  Murray, O.A.R. (1921) 'Devonshire Wills of the 16th & 17th Centuries', Transactions of the Devonshire Association, Volume 53, 1921.
Link to National Archives catalogue record.

This is an interesting will because it could be a link between WINDEATTs from Devon and those found later in the vicinity of Southwark, London.  There are several of these but I have have not felt like spending the money on them yet:

Will of William Wingate, Chirurgeon of Saint Paul Shadwell, Middlesex 1699
Will of Thomas Wingot, Mariner of Saint Paul Shadwell, Middlesex 16 December 1703
Will of John Wingate, Surgeon of Saint John Wapping, Middlesex 1711
Will of Frances Wingate, Spinster of Limehouse, Middlesex 1721
Will of Ralph Wingate of East Greenwich, Kent 1727

For a  list of other Wills please go to the WILLS page.


This rather unusual will is called a "nuncupative will", and, according to the writer below, was a development of:

". . the earliest form of English will . . . which consists merely of the last words of the dying man.  These words were if possible, written down and signed (or signed and sealed) by the man himself, so as to leave no doubt of his intentions.  Hence developed the written will.  But if circumstances did not admit of this, the words were remembered as accurately as might be by those present, and were subsequently written down and vouched for by them.  This form of will war called a "nuncupative will", and if sufficiently supported by evidence it was accepted by the Ecclesiastical courts as no less effective than a written will.

"As might be expected, it was found in course of time that the nuncupative will lent itself to fraudulent dealing, and much stricter conditions were laid down in regard to it, first by the Statute of Frauds in 1676, and subsequently by other statues, until it was finally swept away by the Wills Act of 1837." (Murray, 1921)

George's Noncupative Will

This transcription has been made from the Transactions of the Devonshire Association (full source quoted above)   I have changed the surnames to uppercase to aid family historians. 

As an instance of a noncupative will, I will quote from that of George WINDIT of Exeter (P.C.C. 27 Darcy).  This records that on Thursday, 8th June, 1581, when he was lying sick in the parish of St. George's, Southwark, he said to his cousin John WINDIT:  

  "Yowe asked me yesternighte whoe shoulde have all my goodes, and because then I didde not knowe yowe I thoughte it had bene one of the mudges wch wente about to deceyve me, and therefore I answered not to the question.  But nowe that I knowe and that you have sworne to me that you are my cosyne John WINDEITT I geve yowe all that I have.  And therefore I praie yowe looke unto me. And lette me not wante anythinge."  

  These words were certified by three witnesses.  The record goes on to tell that on Friday 15th June, the sick man was asked by one of these witnesses, Thomas JOBSON by name, whether he would make his will and he answered that he would do so if his friends were there.  And being demanded whom he would have, answered he would have his cousin John WINDITT.  Then Thomas JOBSON asked what he would give to John WINDITT.  and he answered, "I give him all that I have."  "Why" said Thomas JOBSON, "your wife will have the thirds."

  Then he answered, "I know that very well."  The record of this conversation being confirmed by witnesses was accepted as a valid will, though probate was afterwards revoked for causes that do not appear.


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