Interesting snippets I found out today...in the early 1700's, if you agreed to grow flax on your land, you could choose between a free spinning wheel or a loom...it was the intention to boost the Irish linen trade...Flax is so pretty I wouldn't mind growing some in the slightest though I doubt the farmers went for its looks...I wonder if the loom or the spinning wheel were delivered or if you had to traipse miles to collect your freebie...perhaps a man came round with a horse and cart heaped with them and you had to ferret about in the pile to find one that wasn't already in bits from the journey.

Then the other interesting bit was the Will of one of Himselfs distant relatives...he wrote his Will in 1677 which was during the reign of Charles 11....now I did get slightly worried while reading George's will because I couldn't see how the money was going to be enough for all the people he left it to...perhaps by the time he actually died he made a bit more. He left 94 pounds and 11 shillings in total with much going to his three sons and small amounts to their respective wives...ten shillings each actually. But what startled me somewhat was the fact he left his 'bedding in his bedchamber' to his wife Isobel. So, I had a think about that and maybe he had a feather mattress and perhaps an elaborately woven tapestry as a bedcover...he'd not have wanted any squabbles over those because they'd have been worth quite a great deal of money then.

But it was the small amounts he left which intrigued me the most...ten shillings to Mr Obadiah Bourne for preaching a sermon at his funeral...six shillings to each bell ringer, and all the poor people of the parish were to recieve fourpence, with an extra twopence if they attended his funeral. The thirty poorest families of the parish were to be given ten shillings ten days before Christmas...George described the occasion as 'ten days before the nativity of our Lord and Saviour' so I think he meant what we call Christmastime...that ten shillings would be distributed by his eldest son Thomas..

Then right at the end of this rather complex will leaving token monies to practically everyone...he left the sum of two shillings to all those 'who witnessed my hand and seal on this my Will'....

George's wife Isobel, also recieved a payment of ten pounds twice yearly to be paid in September and March for the rest of her natural life.

Now George was a Yeoman farmer who owned land and a huge house which he'd come by in a complicated way through his Fathers marriage into a landed family...whether he wrote out his Will himself or dictated it to someone who could write isn't clear...what endlessly fascinates me is the simple fact that in the 1600's the family had wealth and some degree of power in their district...by the 1800's many of their direct descendants were simple farm workers living in tiny cramped and over crowded cottages...and who all too frequently ended their lives in the local Workhouse.

I wonder whatever they would think if they'd known who their ancestors were while they were servants in the local big house scrubbing floors and sharing a bed with another servant in the draughty attic or giving birth to babies out of wedlock in the Workhouse...

Thomas would have had a soft leather bag of coins when he went about the district on his second-best horse to dole out the ten shillings before the nativity of Our Lord...George, Thomas's father described the monies as 'the lawful money of England'...I wonder if Thomas was as altrustic as his father had obviously been or did he mutter under his breath while he was giving out the lawful money of England to the poor of the parish.

We'll never know how he felt about it...we'll not be privy to Thomas being reminded by a manservant that he'd better start doling out the money now 'cos the Nativity is only a couple of weeks away...we'll not find out whether Isobel appreciated being left the 'bedding in the bedchamber'...maybe she'd always lusted after that soft mattress and the comfy pillows or perhaps she made a maid pack it all away and put it in the attic and went back to her own bed and her own coverings.

Whoever said history was boring...half an hour on Ancestry brings me virtually face to face with people who lived long before...with men who lived during the reign of Charles 11 or with a sad little woman who spent her days going in and out of the local Workhouse while she had baby after baby never being quite certain who their fathers were. All those stories just waiting to be discovered.