In the name of god Amen
this second daie
of December In the yere of our lord god
|There are six lines in Latin below, legal notes to the effect that the will was registered 21 February 1589 in the archidiaconal court at Beccles, by Israel Nashe. (In Elizabethan times the New Year began officially on March 25: hence although Margaret died in December 1589, it was still 1589 when her will was entered the following February.)
Note: I'm greatly indebted to Lowestoft local historian Mr. D. Butcher for much new information regarding this document. Having transcribed over 500 local wills he is confident the original of this one is in the hand of Stephen Phillip, master of the local school, whose wife Mary (nee Witchingham) was Margaret's niece.
It's worth mentioning here that two copies of Margaret Nashe's will exist. There's the one made at her bedside, so to speak, which is in the hand of her kinsman-by-marriage, Stephen Phillip: this is now at Ipswich Record Office, where it has the reference IC/AAI/30/169. The transcription above however is not of this, but of the official copy made by a clerk when the will was proved. Although substantially the same there are slight variations between the two. In the original, the bequest to her stepdaughter Mary Atkinson originally read 'half a dozen table napkyns a payre of (old) shetes which are layd vp together'. Phillip has neatly crossed through the word 'old'.
There is more evidence of editing further on. The last paragraph begins 'Itm I gyve (vnto Mary ye)'...:the words I have enclosed in brackets are crossed through in the original, and the sentence then continues as in the official copy 'and bequeathe all my other goods' etc.
In other words Margaret Nashe was clearly about to begin a bequest to her niece Mary Phillip, wife of the man taking down her will, when presumably Phillip himself intervened to tell her this was unnecessary. Perhaps he suggested it would be enough for her to tell him what she wished to leave; or perhaps he told her no bequest was necessary at all? The Phillips were hardly in need of Margaret's sheets or napkins; when Stephen Phillip's own will was proved on 25th February 1605/6 he left his wife 'my tenement wherin I now dwell', an annuity of £10 apiece to his two younger sons, and to his wife and eldest son 'all my other landes as well free hold, as coppy hold, my cattell, leases, & all my other goodes...' It sounds as if life had been kinder to him than it had to the widow of a country parson.
As well as taking down Margaret's will Stephen Phillip also acts as witness, along with "Whiborow Mahew", who turns out to be his mother-in-law, the former wife of Margaret's brother George Witchingham. (Whiborow married a John Mahew after the death of her first husband, George.) There is also a third witness whose name has been partly erased.
Whiborow Mahew's second husband, like her first, was a mariner, and in fact many of Nashe's maternal relations seem to have been mariners. For more about the Witchinghams, and Margaret's other legatees, select here.