A daughter’s inheritance

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Richard Collins, who had inherited his uncle Thomas Ford’s land just before Enclosure, lived on into the 19th century and wrote his will in 1808. He left his son John his real estate (unspecified), but he itemised the household goods he was leaving to his daughter Ann.

The list makes interesting reading, revealing a picture of old fashioned furnishings along with newly fashionable consumer goods. The bedstead in the parlour was a fashion that was on the way out by the middle of the 18th century yet Richard seems to have stuck with it into the 19th. But the equipment for tea and coffee drinking was quite ‘on trend’ for a country village of this time.

Here is what he left her:

6 brown chairs and an elbow chair,

the bedstead, hangings and furniture in the parlour, with three blankets and four sheets, which she shall choose,

a chest of drawers, swing glass, brown folding table in the house [‘house’ is an old fashioned term for the hall, or living room]

a tea table, late her mother’s, the silver tea tongs and silver spoons, the china,teaspooons glasses and earthenware in the parlour cupboard and the clock, grate and iron stool with a set of fire irons in the parlour,

brass kettle

also the bed hilling or coverlet, late her mother’s,

two tubs and a barrel and half the pewter and a dressing table and a brass coffee boiler.


Her mother Ann, nee Dunkley, had died in 1795. Perhaps the tea table had originally been a wedding present from her family and the coverlet possibly a lavishly embroidered piece which she had made, as a showcase for her skills as a needlewoman, for her ‘bottom drawer’ to bring with her to her new home as a bride in January 1765. Tea

A question of beds

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Richard and Nathaniel Parnell were brothers from an old village family. They appeared, along with their father, in the Pro and Con Document. But while their father was listed with the supporters of enclosure, they were both against it – not that their objections seem to have been overly strong.

Richard said he ‘can live upon it as it is, and is not certain it will improve by inclosing’. He had about 30 acres.

Nathaniel said, ‘Underwood had desired him to join in the Opposition and hePro and con 1_edited-1 had promised.’ Nice, dependable chap, Nathaniel. He had a cottage (with common right) and about four acres.

Richard was the elder brother. He had married late in life, at the age of 59, and had no children. Consequently, when he and his wife Elizabeth died, they left their property between their numerous nephews and nieces. Richard died first and left the farm to Nathaniel’s eldest son Thomas and money to everyone else.

A few years later, Elizabeth left some money, but mostly her will itemised personal possessions, including the beds in her house.

Jane Parnell, Nathaniel’s daughter, was left, ‘My best bed and best bed quilt and all the furniture in my best bedchamber’.

Ann Spokes, the daughter of Richard’s sister Rebecca (take notes if it helps) and her husband Thomas Spokes, inherited, ‘ The bed in the lodging room in which I usually sleep and the bedding thereunto, one bed quilt, the chest of drawers and looking glass in the same room.’

Thomas Boyes was bequeathed, ‘My bed in the garret which he usually sleeps in and one pair of sheets.’

Thomas Boyes was the son of William Boyes (the shepherd, remember him?) who had married Jane Parnell, another of Richard’s sisters. Now by the time Elizabeth Parnell was making her will, Thomas Boyes was a grazier with land in West Haddon and enough money to lend £70 on mortgage to William Goodman, a woolcomber, on his house (now 7, Station Road).

7, Station Road, in Jubilee mode in 2012
7, Station Road, in Jubilee mode in 2012

Why would he want a bed in a garret and a pair of sheets? (Not evenbed cords a quilt)?

And why did Elizabeth sleep in the spare room?

(Answers on a postcard, please.)