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HORNE, Francis (?-1653) – A 17th-century resident of Badsey

Thanks to an excellent “Old Documents Workshop” run by Alan and Shirley Tutton, a small group of members were able to decipher the will of Francis Horne who lived in Badsey for around a quarter of a century from the late 1620s until his death in 1653.  Wills from the 17th century with their cursive writing tend to be far harder to read than those from the 18th century onwards but, thanks to a team effort via Zoom, we were able to work out what was being said in Francis Horne’s will and then to find out more about him.

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Francis Horne’s will

Francis Horne’s will follows the standard format for the time with the following preamble:

In the name of God Amen the thirtieth day of July Anno Domini one thousand six hundred thirty-six I Francis Horne of Badsey in the county and diocese of Worcester being sick in body but of good and perfect memory God be blessed, therefore I do ordain and make this my last will and testament in manner and form following First I gave and bequeath my soul into the hands of Almighty God my maker hoping to be saved by the resurrection death and passion of Jesus Christ my Redeemer and my body decently to be buried in the parish churchyard of Badsey above …..

Francis Horne will

This phraseology does not mean that Francis Horne was particularly religious; the court was ecclesiastical, so the phrases were too.

It is interesting to note that the will was made on 30th July 1636 when Francis was “sick in body but of good and perfect memory”.  In the 17th century, in the majority of cases, if a person wrote that he was sick in body, he usually died soon after making the will.  This was not the case, however, with Francis Horne, as he did not die until 1653, 17 years after making his will.

Francis Horne willAfter the preamble, Francis Horne itemised who was to receive his bequests.  The name "Horne" was written with such a flourish that at first it seemed as if it began with an "S".

The first person mentioned was “my well-beloved wife Margarett Horne for and in consideration of the brooding of my children”.  She was to receive “all my holdings and land situate lying and being in the parish of Badsie” for 11 years.  At the end of 11 years, she was to have a third of the house and land for her lifetime; his “well-beloved son Ralph Horne” was to have the other two-thirds of the house and land.  He would then inherit the whole house and land after the death of his mother.  Why 11 years?  Ralph Horne was still a minor at the time that his father thought he was dying, hence the reason behind Margarett being left the house and land until he was an adult.  Ralph was also to receive £5 when he reached the age of 21.  

Bequests were also made to Francis Horne’s daughters:  “unto my well-beloved daughter Elinor Horne the sum of thirty pounds ….. unto my daughter Ann Horne the sum of twenty pounds to be payd by my Executor when she shall accomplish the age of fourteen years”.  To his other son:  “unto my son John Horne the sum of twenty pounds of current English monies to be paid him by my Executor to be set forth to him when he shall accomplish the age of sixteen years And to increase it unto himself when he shall accomplish the age of twenty and years”.

Francis Horne IllThe last family bequest was to Francis Horne’s sister, Margery Roper, the wife of Thomas Roper of Wickhamford/Wichenford, who was to be paid 40 shillings one year after his decease.  The spelling of the place-name looks like Wickenford, so this could be either the neighbouring village of Wickhamford, or Wichenford in the Malvern Hills district.

There then followed charitable bequests:  “unto eight Ringers eight shillings” (this referred to the bell ringers) and to “the poore of Badsie eight shillings”.

Francis Horne appointed his wife, Margarett, as his executrix and his brother-in-law, John Morris, and Robert Morris, a kinsman, as overseers of his will.

Francis Horne died at Badsey in September 1653 and, as per his will, was buried in the churchyard at Badsey, although no gravestone survives.  His widow, Margarett, died just under five months later, before she had a chance to prove the will, so her sons took out letters of administration.  

Who was Francis Horne?

Francis Horne (?-1653) came to our attention through an exercise in the “Old Documents Workshop”.  We know from his will that he was married to Margarett and had two sons and two daughters, and also a sister, Margery, married to Thomas Roper.  He did not give his occupation, possibly because he was already too ill to work.  But what else do we know about him?

Members of the Horne family lived in Badsey for just over a hundred years.  The name is first recorded in 1629 when a child of Francis Horne was baptised; the last mention is a burial in 1745.  There were also people by the name of Horne living in Wickhamford in the first half of the 17th century but it is not known if they are related.

From the Badsey baptismal registers, we can see that only Francis’ two younger children were baptised at Badsey:  Ann on 15th April 1629 and John on 5th October 1634.  A Transcript of the Bretforton parish registers, reveals that his eldest daughter, Elinor, was baptised at Bretforton on 16th September 1621.  No baptismal record has been found for his eldest son, Ralph, but the presumption is that Ralph was born about 1626 as, when Francis made his will in 1636, he stipulated that his wife, Margarett, was to have charge of the estate and then, after 11 years, Ralph was to have two-thirds of the house and land – presumably this was when he had attained the age of 21.

We don’t know where or when Francis was born but Ancestry reveals that Francis had married Margarett Morris on 27th April 1620 at Chipping Campden.  Margarett was from an ancient Bretforton family and her brother, John Morris and kinsman, Robert Morris, had been mentioned as overseers of Francis’ will.  The Hornes moved to Badsey some time in the mid 1620s with their first-born children.

Whilst his four children were still fairly young, Francis became ill and obviously thought that he might die, so made his will in 1636.  However, he did not die until September 1653.  His widow survived him by just under five months, dying in February 1654.  The date of her burial was 6th February 1653 according to the Julian calendar which was operational at that time, but which was actually 1654 according to the Gregorian calendar which has been in use since 1752.

It appears from Margarett’s will that the two daughters had both married by this time:  Elinor to Thomas Combe and Ann to William Roberts.  Her elder son, Ralph, already had the house and land in Badsey, but she gave to her younger son, John, the "lease of the ground in Wiffenfd called the Hill Close" - this is thought to be Wickhamford, and we know from manorial documents that people by the name of Horne had leased land earlier in the century.

Margarett Horne will
This appears to say:  "Wiffenfd [Wickhamford] called the Hill Close".

Ralph Horne, the eldest son, remained living in Badsey for the rest of his life.  The name of his wife is unknown, but he had three children baptised at Badsey:  Francis (1655-1728), Hester (1657-1661) and John (1661-?).  Ralph died in September 1694 and was buried in the churchyard.  There is a copy of his will at Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service but, as yet, it has not been possible to view this.  Other burials at Badsey were for Anne Horn in 1708 (possibly his widow), William Horne in 1716, Francis Horne in 1728 (his son), Catharine Horne in 1729 (possibly Francis’ widow) and Prusilla Horne in 1745.  There is also the will of Catherine Horne at Worcester.  

Prusilla Horne may well have been the great-granddaughter of Francis Horne who made the will.  By her death in 1745, she appears to have been the last of the Hornes to live in Badsey.

Maureen Spinks, October 2020