William Bainbridge’s Last Will and Testament

A scan of Bainbridge’s Will

A copy of William Bainbridge’s Will is kept in the British National Archives in Kew, London. It is kept as part of the records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury which, until the mid-19th was the main court to which an application for probate was made (i.e. the process by which the administrators and executors of the Will gain ownership of the property so that they may administrate it in accordance with the Will).

The Will reveals that, in the year before his death, William Bainbridge had become moderately wealthy: he not only owned his business and shop at 35 Holborn Hill but also another property and various government bonds which brought in a moderate income. He had four children: William, Elizabeth, George and Charles. Charles is the only one not listed as being at school and the statement that he is “now” living at 35 Holborn Hill suggests this was because he had completed (rather than not started) his education. The main provisions of the Will are to ensure that his property are used to support his children until they are twenty-one, through a complexly-written discretionary trust.

From the point of view of his profession, the most notable provision is that his wife, as executrix of the Will “may use [her] own discretion to carry on the business or dispose of it as they shall think proper”. It appears that none of Bainbridge’s children chose to continue the profession as Harriet Bainbridge, despite continuing the business for four years, eventually took advantage of this clause to transfer it to Bainbridge’s former apprentice Henry Hastrick who, using his middle name of Thomas, is one of the witnesses to the Will.


In the Name of God Amen—

I, William Bainbridge, of No 35 Holborn Hill, in the City of London, patent flageolet maker, being of sound disposing mind, memory and understanding, do make, publish and declare this, my last Will and Testament, revoking all former Wills by me at any time before made, in manner and form following that is to say.

I thereby nominate and appoint my dear Wife, Harriet Bainbridge, my sole Executrix of this, my last Will and Testament.
I give and bequeath unto my aforesaid Executrix all my Real and Personal Estate, my Ground Rents of Sixty pounds Annum in the Darkity Road in the County of Middlesex, also my Goods, Chattels, Utensils, monies in the Public Funds Book Debts, Wearing Apparel and Effects of what nature or kind soever I shall or may become possessed of interested in or entitled unto at the time of my decease. In trust for the following purposes, first I will and direct that my funeral [expenses], Just debts and the charges of proving this my last Will and Testament be fully paid and the remaining surplus I give to my said Executrix Harriet Bainbridge, her Executors, Administrators and Assigns in trust for the use of my children Viz. William at School at Kentish Town; Elizabeth and George at School at Peckham and Charles now residing with me at 35 Holborn Hill to be applied for their Education and Maintenance until the youngest child shall become of age or leave it at the discretion of my said Executrix her Executors, Administrators and Assigns to pay unto the oldest of my children as he or she shall arrive at the age of twenty one years an equal proportion of the surplus or retain the same until all the children then living shall arrive at the age of twenty one years and then to be equally divided amongst the children that may be then living share and share alike and my Will is that the Ground Rests be not sold but applied as before mentioned and in the event of all my children dying before they shall arrive at the age of twenty one years then I give unto my said Wife for her whole and sole use, benefit and disposal all the remaining property of any kind soever and I will and direct that my said Executrix, Administrators and Assigns may use their own discretion to carry on the business or dispose of it as they shall think proper and I declare this to be my last Will and Testament.

In Witness whereof I William Bainbridge have hereunto set my mark and seal this ninteenth day of August in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand eight hundred and thirty. The mark of William Bainbridge. Witness August 19th 1830 Henry Thomas Hastrick. R. S. Eyeles St Andrews

Proved at London 3d February 1831 before the Worshipful Charles Coote Doctor of Laws and Surrogate by Oath of Harriet Bainbridge, Widow the Relict the sole Executrix to whom Admon was granted having been first sworn duly to Administer.

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