Image of document - N.B. poor quality scan (65k)
Wills and inventories are a fertile source for local history research. However, they sometimes contain problems as well as items of interest. If we take the Bidford-on-Avon example, there are several questions. John Bushell is described by the appraisers as a 'yeoman'. The total of his goods they make out to be £60.6 .0: we would have expected it to be more. This total would have fitted a 'husbandman' One of the appraisers seems to be a relation, so, maybe, John's status is being raised. whatever John was, it is surprising that none of his farming equipment, beasts or crops is mentioned: there must have been some. An obvious explanation is that he had given them away to his family; perhaps he was an invalid or very old and had ceased to have a hand in running the farm. £60 without farming stock is a reasonable amount for his house contents, although the feeling arises that not all the house rooms are mentioned: perhaps he had already given away their contents, too. if these thoughts are right, it is possible that his possessions before his death totalled considerably more than £60 and that he was, indeed, a 'yeoman'.
One wonders how many people died of lead poisoning in the early part of the l8th century: the dozen pewter dishes would be in frequent use. John Bushell also lay in what we would call a 'four-poster' bed and apparently did his own brewing.
The date 1723/2 is interesting. It was not until 1752 that the year began officially on January 1st. But the public anticipated the change. Bushell died in January or February 1722 according to the calendar then in use but in 1723 in popular usage
Summer 1991 Index
© Alcester & District Local History Society 1991