Wolverton, Buckinghamshire

Sampson Wills’ accidental death in Wolverton, near Stony Stratford

 Commons

All Saints Calverton Church, Wolverton, Buckinghamshire (Attribution: Mr Biz, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons license)

Holy Trinity Church in Wolverton, Buckinghamshire, England (Attribution: John Salmon, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons license)

While perusing some old UK newspapers, I came upon a list of coroner’s inquests that included the accidental death of stone mason Sampson Wills, one of my 4th great grandfathers, father of George Wills, and husband of Ann Gadsden.

I’d mentioned Sampson’s tragic accident in a previous post; he had fallen supposedly while attempting to affix the pinnacle of the All Saints Calverton Church in Wolverton (Buckinghamshire, England). His great grandson chemist G.S.V. Wills had documented the accident in his memoirs. G.S.V. gave no exact date, but based on what he’d written, I’d estimated that the death occurred around 1830.

The newspaper article, published in London’s Morning Post* on Wednesday, 18 April 1827, provides more definitive details, thankfully. For one thing, it places Sampson’s death in or before April 1827. I don’t know how long after a death an inquest would take place, but I assume within weeks? Any ideas?

Copyright restrictions prohibit me from including a clipping of the article here, but in a nutshell, it confirms a fall from Calverton Church– specifically from the east pinnacle which had recently been erected. Sampson had been cleaning it when the scaffolding beneath him gave way. The 50-foot fall left him with a serious concussion, and he died two days later.

The article states his age as 63. Unfortunately that throws into question the birth and christening dates I have for him: 26 Dec 1867 and 20 Mar 1768 (at the Holy Trinity Church in Wolverton), respectively; presumed parents: Thomas Wills and Elisabeth Rainbow. As always, just when one question gets answered,  two more appear in its place!

*Note: The results of the coroner’s inquest were also published in the Northampton Mercury and Oxford Journal newspapers at roughly the same time.

Categories: Death, Gadsden, Obituaries, Rainbow, Stony Stratford, Buckinghamshire, Wills, Wolverton, Buckinghamshire | 2 Comments

George Wills (b. 1793): Last Will and Testament

Image from private family archives. George Wills original portrait was inherited by his daughter Martha according to the will

Image from private family archives. George Wills original portrait was inherited by his daughter Martha according to the will

Thanks to Tim Laker, a George Wills descendant, for discovering George’s Last Will and Testament on file at the UK National Archives. It dates back to July 1857 and was proved in London on November 14, 1857. Among other things, this document reveals what happened to George’s business when he passed away. My past posts on the matter had been inconclusive, but here we find out for certain that George did indeed split his business between his son Jabez and his son-in-law William Slaymaker. (William Slaymaker was married to George’s daughter Mary. William and Mary Slaymaker changed their surname to Sargent before immigrating to the US in 1870.)

Son-in-law William Slaymaker inherited George Wills' business in Northampton

Son-in-law William Slaymaker inherited George Wills’ business in Northampton

Jabez inherited George’s business in Wolverton, while William inherited George’s business in Northampton. The will is very difficult to read, but here is what I have gleaned so far. Dots indicate text I was unable to decipher and in many cases I have made a “best guess”:

This the Last Will and Testament of one George Wills of Northampton in the County of Northampton Mason made this second day of July in the year one thousand eight hundred and fifty seven in the following … viz … I will that all my just debts be payed and my burial expenses be paid … I give and … to my son Jabez Wills my house and premises at Wolverton in the County of Buckingham. I give and bequeath my business at Northampton house yard and premises to to my son-in-law William Slaymaker. I give and bequeath to my daughter Mrs. Phoebe Simpson of Roade in the said County one Cottage. I give and it bequeath to my Daughter Martha Capon Gasgoine [spelling?] of …. in the County of Warwick one Cottage, also I give and bequeath her my portrait (viz/ the said Martha Capon Gasgoine [spelling?]). I give and bequeath to my late Daughter Ann ??’s [Spelling of married name hard to decipher; I’d always thought it was “Grear,” but this looks different] four children one Cottage. I give and bequeath to my Granddaughter Zillah Simpson one Cottage. The Cottages are situated in what is … St. Siz [?] Street Northampton. I will that the whole of my … debts and …. be sold and the money be applied for payments of my … at my … I will that the Bibel presented to me by the ……….. of Ashton in the said County be given to William Slaymaker. Lastly I make and constitute and appoint my …. Mr. George Wills of Broad Lane Northampton Builder and my daughter Phoebe Simpson of Roade in the County as … my Executor and Executrix of this my last Will and Testament and I hereby empower them to collect all monies due to me in … bills or otherwise at my … and to retain and pay themselves all that is due to them and all expenses related to their said Trust in which hereof I have hereunto set my hand this day and year first as above written ——–GEORGE WILLS —-Signed sealed published and delivered by the herewith Testator as and for this his Will and Testament in the presents of us who at his request and in his presents and in the presents of oath and oath other have have subscribed our names as witnesses hereto————Witness Samuel Pasenall —— John Parbery

PROVED at London 14th Nov. 1857 before the Judge by the Oath of George Wills and Phoebe (in the appointment written Phoeby Simpson, Widow, the Daughter, the Executors to whom …. was granted to having been first sworn by common duty to administer

Phoebe Wills Simpson, co-executor of George's will

Phoebe Wills Simpson, co-executor of George’s will

Zillah Simpson (1843 - 1920), George Wills' granddaughter

Zillah Simpson (1843 – 1920), George Wills’ granddaughter


Yew Tree Cottage, Roade, Northamptonshire--home of Zillah Simpson circa 1910; presumably inherited from her mother Phoebe, who presumably inherited it from her father George Wills

Yew Tree Cottage, Roade, Northamptonshire–home of Zillah Simpson circa 1910; presumably inherited from her mother Phoebe, who presumably inherited it from her father George Wills

The will leaves me with some questions and general thoughts:

  • I’d always had George’s year of death listed as 1856, but obviously it was 1857.
  • My date of death of daughter Ann Gadsden Wills Grear [last name correct?] must also be wrong (d. 1 Nov 1858); she obviously predeceased her father George.
  • Daughter Martha Capon inherited George’s portrait. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see a photo of the full-color original? Of course, it’s fantastic to at least have the version in tones of gray; I don’t have any information on Martha’s descendants, and perhaps one of them still has this portrait. Maybe they will find us through this blog someday.
  • William Slaymaker is mentioned as inheriting a Bible. I have no idea what happened to that Bible. If it was taken to America when the family relocated, it must have ended up with someone other than daughter Elizabeth, my great grandmother; we’ve never seen it or heard of it prior to this.
  • Lastly and most interestingly, who is this George Wills the executor? I can’t make out the word before his name. George had a son on 10 Mar 1827 who was named George Sampson Wills. Our records always showed that this son died the following year, but perhaps not. Any thoughts on whether this was indeed George’s son, George?

I’ll close for now, but please feel free to share your ideas and knowledge on any of the above! Many heads are definitely better than one!

Categories: Capon, England, Gadsden, Gasgoine, Last Wills and Testaments, Northampton, Northamptonshire, Roade, Northants, Sargent, Simpson, Slaymaker, Wills, Wolverton, Buckinghamshire | Leave a comment

The Fate of Mary (Wills) Sargent–Cause of Death

Last year I did a series of posts about what became of Mary Wills, daughter of George and Mary Wills,  who was born in November 1829 in Wolverton, Buckinghamshire; met and married William Slaymaker in Blisworth, Northamptonshire; and then lived in Northampton, before moving with her husband and children to the US in 1870. They settled in Jersey City, New Jersey (click here for some historic images of the city). They changed their surname to Sargent before leaving England. I’ve no idea why they picked that surname. Slaymaker sounds okay to me.  According to Family Facts for Slaymaker at Ancestry, it’s an occupational name for a maker of slays. Altered form of German Schleiermacher, an occupational name for a maker or shawls or scarves, from Middle High German sleier ‘scarf’, ‘shawl’, ‘veil’ + macher ‘maker’. Surname Database has its own thoughts on the matter—-perhaps, makers of shoes or sleighs.

In any case, here is a list of past blog posts, the main ones anyway, about Mary and her family.
Post 1, Post 2, Post 3, Update Post, Most recent Post1

I always felt badly for her, being dragged away from her family in England at age 41 at her husband’s insistence, he wanting to make his fortune during post-Civil War reconstruction. At least that is what my great grandmother (Mary’s daughter) passed down. Husband William’s business affairs failed miserably and the family was on public assistance for a while. She also allegedly gave birth to 12 children over the course of her somewhat brief life, including 2 sets of twins, my great grandmother being one of them (her twin died). I presume that all those births happened when Mary was still living in England. The four of the twelve children who survived–Samuel, Elizabeth, William, and Sadie–emigrated to the US with her.

I’d always wondered how Mary died, because she was only in the US for seven years before she passed away. Well, today my answer arrived in the mail. The death record sent along to me by the NJ Dept. of Health Archives. And though lots of scenarios had played out in my mind with regards to a cause of death, I’d never thought of this: “stomach cancer, encephaloid variety.” My heart goes out even more to Mary; this must have been a very painful illness. There was no cure. According to a medical dictionary, encephaloid cancer is a very malignant form of cancer that manifests itself as a tumor of brain-like consistency. Encephaloid means “resembling the brain.”

Prior to June 1, 1878, individual certificates were not issued by the state of NJ, so Mary’s record appears in the ledger format used from May 1848 until May 1878.
Date of Death: 6 December 1877
Name of Deceased: Mary C. Wills
Age: 48
Occupation: none given
Place of Death: 96 Chestnut Ave.
Place of Birth: England
Names of Parents: George Wills and Mary C.
Cause of Death: Cancer of the stomach; Encephaloid family

I’d hoped the record would indicate a place of burial, but unfortunately it does not. On a positive note, her name appears with the middle initial “C.”—perhaps for “Capon,” her mother’s maiden name. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a middle initial for her.

The ledger format reveals so much about “life and death” in Jersey City in 1877. Listed are lots of infants and babies taken by meningitis, convulsions, cholera, diptheria, hydrocephalus, bronchitis,and asthenia (lack of body strength). A 16-year-old laborer died of a fractured skull from an injury working for the railroad, a 40-year-old mother died of exhaustion after “instrumental delivery,” other adults died of phthisis (per Merriam-Webster’s: a progressively wasting or consumptive condition; especially : pulmonary tuberculosis), uterine cancer, typhoid, and asthenia. Only one person on the list, a 79-year-old laborer from Germany, died of “old age.”

Mary Wills Sargent Death Record

The Practitioner, published 1897

Description of Stomach Cancer from the book The Practitioner, published in 1897, 21 years after Mary’s death

Mary Wills Sargent’s place of death (see red balloon)

Categories: Blisworth, Northamptonshire, Death Certificates, Jersey City, Hudson Co., New Jersey, Sargent, Stony Stratford, Buckinghamshire, Wills, Wolverton, Buckinghamshire | Leave a comment

The George Wills Line: Some Fresh Information

I was recently contacted by Tim Laker, who lives in England and is a descendant of George Will’s son, Jabez. Tim has provided some fresh information on the Wills line.

First, he brought to my attention the fact that George had all his children baptized in a Wesleyan Chapel in St. Mary-le-bone, London. I don’t recall having heard or read that, but it makes complete sense since George had converted to Methodism and was living in London prior to taking over his father Sampson’s business after the latter’s fatal accident.

Second, Tim alerted me to additional children of Jabez who were missing from my tree: Frederick Arthur and Beatrice. You may remember that Jabez was a stone carver in the tradition of his father and grandfather, Sampson Wills. Frederick Arthur continued in that tradition as did one of his sons, also named Frederick, who died in 1984. According to Tim, the two Fredericks worked together on the restoration of many London buildings including the Houses of Parliament.

And lastly, Tim advised me that he had been doing research on the Family Search site and believes he has ascertained that Sampson Wills’ parents names were Thomas Wills and Elisabeth Rainbow (married 19 June 1761). The marriage date makes it likely that Thomas and Elizabeth were born around 1740. They also resided in the Wolverton, Buckingham, England, area. I love that surname–Rainbow. How exciting to make it back yet another generation! I think Tim may well be right about Thomas and Elizabeth; with a bit of fiddling on the website, I came upon some of Sampson’s siblings and presumably Sampson himself. The tree my grandmother left behind showed Sampson’s birth date as 26 December 1767. A christening on 20 March 1768, as the record indicates, would be very plausible. There was an Elisabeth Wills born the year after Sampson to a Thomas and Elisabeth Wills, but because the birth took place in Bobbing, Kent, and that is a good distance from Wolverton, it seems likely that a different Thomas and Elisabeth Wills were involved there.

1-Thomas Wills b. Cir 1740, Wolverton, Buckingham, England
+Elisabeth Rainbow b. Cir 1740
|–2-Mary Wills c. 17 Jan 1762, Holy Trinity, Wolverton, Buckingham, England
|–2-Wills c. 4 Jan 1763, Holy Trinity, Wolverton, Buckingham, England
|–2-Sarah Wills c. 14 Jun 1764, Holy Trinity, Wolverton, Buckingham, England
|–2-Sampson Wills b. 26 Dec 1767, c. 20 Mar 1768, Holy Trinity, Wolverton, Buckingham, England

Many thanks to Tim for sharing. He promises to fill us in on more as he finds it out!

NOTE: I will be adding more pages to the GSV Wills Memoirs post sometime next week.

Categories: London, Wesleyan Methodist, Wills, Wolverton, Buckinghamshire | 2 Comments

George S. V. Wills – English Chemist

I came across a little book recently called The Works of George S. V. Wills and The Westminster College of Chemistry and Pharmacy. I knew prior to this discovery that we have a George Wills in our family tree who was an accomplished builder and sculptor in Northamptonshire, England, in the early 1800s.  His dates as I have them listed are 22 Feb 1793 to 24 July 1856. This is a family line that has been on my “to-do” list for quite some time, and I must admit that this curious little book spurred me to place the Wills higher up in my research priorities. The first few chapters give sufficient detail about G.S.V. Wills to know that he was a grandson of our George Wills who was a son of Sampson Wills, also a well known builder in his day. So I have plenty of information to work with to piece some more family details together, and I will begin to share them in subsequent posts.

George Wills, 1793-856, Image from private family archives. George Wills' original portrait was inherited by his daughter Martha according to the will

George Wills, 1793-856, Image from private family archives. George Wills’ original portrait was inherited by his daughter Martha according to the will

Meanwhile, I am including an image of George Wills that has traveled down through the generations and landed with me and my family. George was married to Mary Capon, whose mother, Mary Pitt Capon, was supposedly a cousin of William Pitt, prime minister of England from 1783-1801.

I have done searches on the Wills name on the LDS site and have come up with dozens of Wills ancestors but have yet to find those on our direct line. The areas in Northamptonshire I am focusing my research on are Stony Stratford, Blisworth, and Roade. I believe George Wills is buried in the Holy Trinity Church in Wolverton, Buckingham, England. If anyone reading this has any details to share, please get in touch. Thanks.

Update (12/11): Since writing this entry, I have made many posts about the Wills family. Click on “Wills” in the left-hand column under “Surnames”. It’s best to read them in chronological order. For G.S.V. Wills family exclusively, click here.

England map

Locations of Roade and Blisworth

Categories: Blisworth, Northamptonshire, Pitt, Pime Minister William, Roade, Northants, Stony Stratford, Buckinghamshire, Wills, Wolverton, Buckinghamshire | 22 Comments

Powered by WordPress.com.

Hello Hygge

Finding hygge everywhere

Well, That Was Different

Travel Stories, Expatriate Life, Undiplomatic Commentary and Some Pretty Good Photos

Sketching Family

Urban Sketching

Observaterry

Terry's view on things

Giselle Potter

Illustrator

Emma

Politics, things that make you think, and recreational breaks

The Sketchbook

MOSTLY MONTREAL, MOST OF THE TIME

Smart Veg Recipes

Welcome to home made, vegeterian, healthy & kids friendly recipes

Jane Austen's World

This Jane Austen blog brings Jane Austen, her novels, and the Regency Period alive through food, dress, social customs, and other 19th C. historical details related to this topic.

Travels with Janet

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Do Svidanya Dad

Exploring Dad's Unusual Story From NJ to the USSR

La Audacia de Aquiles

"El Mundo Visible es Sólo un Pretexto" / "The Visible World is Just a Pretext".-

TOWER AND FLIGHTS

In The Beginning Man Tried Ascending To Heaven via The Tower Of Babel. Now He Tries To Elevate His Existence Using Hallucinogenic Drugs. And, Since The 20th Century, He Continually Voyages Into Outer Space Using Spacecrafts. Prayer Thru Christ Is The Only Way To Reach Heaven.

London, Hollywood

I'm Dominic Wells, an ex-Time Out Editor. I used to write about films. Now I write them.

Uma Familia Portuguesa

A história da nossa família

Trkingmomoe's Blog

Low Budget Meals for the New Normal

The Good, the Bad and the Italian

food/films/families and more

dvn ms kmz time travel

This is all about my travels to the past... my reflections and musings about yesteryear, as I find the stories of a people passed away and learn how to tell them.

newarkpoems

350 years of Newark in verse 1666-2016

Russian Universe

Understanding Russia with a Russian

Bulldog Travels

Everything and Nothing Plus Some Pretty Photos

Dances with Wools

knitting, spinning, dyeing, and related fiber arts

Life After Caregiving

On caregivers, faith, family, and writing...

Why'd You Eat That?

Food Folklore for the everyday scholar. These are the stories behind the foods we eat.

Cooking without Limits

Food Photography & Recipes

The Pioneer Woman

Plowing through Life in the Country...One Calf Nut at a Time

Almost Home

Genealogy Research and Consulting

Old Bones Genealogy of New England

Genealogy and Family History Research

ferrebeekeeper

Reflections Concerning Art, Nature, and the Affairs of Humankind (also some gardening anecdotes)

Map of Time | A Trip Into the Past

Navigating Through Someplace Called History

Out Here Studying Stones

Cemeteries & Genealogy

WeGoBack

family research ... discover your ancestry

the Victorian era

Did I misplace my pince-nez again? Light reading on the 19th century.

"Greatest Generation" Life Lessons

This is the story of an ordinary family, trying to live an ordinary life during an extraordinary time frame, and the lessons they learn through experience.

Moore Genealogy

Fun With Genealogy

Meeting my family

RESEARCHING MY FAMILY TREE

Shaking the tree

musings on the journey towards knowing and sharing my family's stories

A Hundred Years Ago

Food and More

Scots Roots

Helping you dig up your Scots roots.

Root To Tip

Not just a list of names and dates

%d bloggers like this: