|Dated:||23 March 1545|
|Others:||Mildred Benet(t) and her sister Babege, John Coppman (overseer)|
|Witnesses:||Paul Steward, Robert Benet(t), Thomas Coklin, George Slooke, William Lyllye|
|Robert Well, John Swayne. Robert Harris (trustee), William Astone (trustee)|
In the name of God Amen. In the year of our
Lord 1545 and the 23rd day of March, I Richard Emptage
of the parish of St Lawrence in the Isle of Thanet being in the galley
hamborowe the king’s majesty in his wars upon the sea being
there very sick of body and whole of mind do ordain and make
this my present testament and last will in manner and form as here
after following. First I bequeath my soul to god almighty our
blessed lady and to all the holy company of heaven and my body
to be buried [at] the pleasure of almighty god. Item I will there shall
done at my forthfare [burial] for my soul and all Christian souls 6s 8d
and at month’s day 5s 8d and at my twelvemonth’s’s day 5s also
I bequeath to the church of St. Lawrence above said 8d also
I bequeath to Matthew Emptage my brother a dole of nets one within
another. Also I bequeath Mildred Benet and Babege her sister a
dole of net between them all. The residue of my goods
moveable my debts paid and my will fulfilled I give and bequeath
to Alys my wife which Alys I make my sole executrix to this my
will fulfilled and John Coppman of Dumpton to be overseer to
this witnessed by Paul Steward, Robert Benett, Thomas Coklin, George
Slooke, William Lyllye, Robert Well and John Swayne
This is the last will of me the said Richard
Emptage made the day and year above written and in the
36th year of the reign of our sovereign king Henry the 8th
of and upon all my lands and tenements set lying and being
in the parish of St. Lawrence abovesaid or elsewhere within the
county [of] Kent First I will that Alys my wife shall have hold and
occupy all my lands and tenements for [the] term of her natural
life keeping sufficient reparations and paying the lord of the see
his due. And if the said Alyse my wife be with child of my body
lawfully begotten then I will after her it shall remain unto
the said child and if that she have no issue of my body lawfully
begotten then I will it shall remain to Matthew Emptage my brother
and his heirs for ever more Also if that the said Alys keeps not
lawful reparations to my said lands and tenements and pay the lord
of the see his dues as she is bound to do then I will that
Matthew Emptage my brother shall enter in my said lands and
tenements and put out the said Alys out of them for ever more
And also I do put in trust Robert Harris and William Astone to
see my brother have my said lands and tenements after the decease
of Alys my wife according to this my will and they to have for their
labour either of them 12d and so I commend my soul to the father
Transcription of document: PRC17/23/269b held at the Kent History and Library Centre Maidstone
1. As Matthew Emptage is named as his brother, I have taken him to be the
son of Michael d: 1537 (both sons named in their father’s will).
2. His wife was possibly carrying a child when he wrote his will (line 29)
3. “that the said Alys keeps not lawful reparations to my said lands and tenements and pay the lord of the see his dues as she is bound to do” infers that the estate was held as an ecclesiastical fief. The land was owned by the Church or a monastery and the bishop or abbot granted the rights over the land in return for a pledge of service and a fee or dues. Richard’s estate probably came under the auspices of the Abbey at Minster-in-Thanet.
4. This is the first Emptage will which makes a connection with the sea.
Richard was a serving sailor in the ‘Navy Royal’ of Henry V111. The “galley
hamborowe” may have been reference to the ship Mary Hambrough
That Richard was making his will appears to indicate that he was an officer.
His father Michael’s will is one of the more difficult to transcribe but Richard does not appear to have inherited land and tenements from his father, so it would seem that he purchased his land and tenements, also indicating that he was an officer rather than a seaman.
Bequeathing a ‘dole of nets’ to his brother Matthew and a dole of nets to be shared between Mildred Benet and her sister Babege indicates a further connection with the sea.
A dole of nets refers to two fishing nets, each of 21 yards in length, four lints in width, 42 meshes in each lint.
It was customary for crew members on board fishing vessels to contribute a certain number of nets or lines (depending on the nature of the voyage) towards the overall amount of gear carried, the idea being to spread the investment over as many people as possible and provide the justification for paying fishermen by a share system.
The amount or value of the contribution depended on the status of the person. Was Matthew Emptage a boat owner, ship’s master, mate or ordinary crew member of a fishing vessel?
Wikipedia: List of early warships of the English navy