A mourning ring for my brother Thomas

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Thomas Worcester had been the largest landowner resident in the parish at the time of the Pro and Con document. In the subsequent scramble of land investment John Walker, the draper had outstripped him by a few acres but he was still left with a substantial farm of nearly 140 acres after Enclosure.

Sadly, he had only three years to enjoy it before he died, but he probably at least set in motion the building of a new house in the village before he died. That house was enjoyed by his sister Esther for almost 20 years as an independent, unmarried woman.mourning ring 2

Thomas left no will, but Esther made up for it with a very long one, in 1783. She left money to relations in Northamptonshire and Leicestershire, and lands in West Haddon, Guilsborough and Hillmorton. She named Charles Heygate as one of her trustees for the sale of the ¬†West Haddon land, and to his sister Catherine she left ‘my brocaded flowered silk gown and one of the mourning rings I had for my brother Thomas’.

She probably drove herself to visit local friends and relatives in the one-horse chaise she left to one of them.Chaise_(PSF)

There were many other bequests, including a couple to non-conformist ministers in both Long Buckby and Kilsby, (which explains why she and her brother have no baptism records at All Saints’.) This echoes an earlier member of the Worcester family who, in the previous century had been Vicar of Olney. His puritan leaningflowered silk gowns led him to resign from the established church and he took his family to America, about ten years after the Mayflower sailed with the Pilgrim Fathers. He became the founding pastor of a church in Massachusetts. What would he have thought of all Esther’s brocades and rings and things?