|Best Family Wills 1728 - 1847|
The Best family lived at Middle Farm from 1589 to 1880, but the will of William Best here only refers to the future Black Lion which he built about 1698. Mary Best's will says she was in service to Thomas Deane the wheelwright, he lived at Bay Lodge in Ash Road. The wills are:
25 October 1728
He is "sick and weak of body"
To niece Margaret, daughter of brother John: £30
To Edward and William Best, sons of brother John: £30 each
To nephew Matthew Best, son of brother John: £30 when he is 21
To Ann, daughter of brother John Best: £15, when she was 21
To sister in law Margaret Best and niece Rebeccah Best, daughter of brother Edward: £15 each.
To Hannah Best, daughter of brother Edward: £10
"I give and devise all that my messuage and tenement with the barn and outhouses thereto belonging. And also all those several pieces or parcels of land thereunto belonging, containing by estimation 6 acres.... situate in Hartley.... now in the occupation... of Richard Day or his assignees. Unto my brother Edward Best and to my nephew John Best, son of my said brother John Best, and to their heirs and assigns forever. To hold as tenants in common and not as joint tenants".
Remainder of personal estate to nephew John Best (executor)
(X) William Best
Proved 2 November 1728
To son William - £50 when he is 22
To son John - £50 when he is 22, "if he does not succeed to my farming business"
To son Barnet - £50 when he is 22, "if he does not succeed to my farming business"
To daughters Ann and Mary - £40 each when they are 22.
Remainder of personal estate and farm tools etc, he leaves in trust to his friends Mordecai and William Andrus of Longfield, to continue the farm business until his son Edward is 23. Should Edward not survive that long, then the farm to go to son John, then son Barnet. As well as the farm implements, the executors to hand over such crops as are growing at the time.
His mother Ann, and wife Esther (unless she remarries) to continue living in his house. However if Esther think it best to move, then she is to be paid an annuity of £20 out of the estate, while she remains a widow. In which case executors to support children with clothing and other necessaries, and apprenticeship premiums (but they must not spend more than £10 on any one child).
If the inheriting son refuses to honour the gifts in this will, then the executors can take over the farm until he agrees. While all of them live on the farm, they are expected to apply themselves to the farming business, and if anyone neglect to do so, they shall "henceforth forfeit and lose the benefit of living on the said farm" - excepting his wife, who would still be entitled to her annuity.
Signed: Edward Best
Codicil dated 28 May 1803
To son George, born since last will - the aforementioned sum of £50 when he is 21.
Robert Monk of Hartley, farmer, also appointed executor and trustee.
Signed: Edward Best
Proved at London by Mordecai and William Andrus, two of the executors, 3 December 1803.
To brother George - all the goods and chattels in the dwelling house of Thomas Deane, wheelwright in the said parish, and such money due to her from her service there, or interest from the executors of the late Edward Best.
Signed: 18 September 1845
Proved at London 16 January 1847.