Bensted Family Wills

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The Bensted family were major landowners in c19th Hartley, first as tenants and then owners of Hartley Court. The will of William senior (1836) contains an early reference to Hartley House, which was left to his daughter. The Mary Beach referred to in the will of William junior is commemorated in a wall monument in All Saints' Church, Hartley.

PRO PROB 11/1861 (sig 274)

Will of William Bensted the elder of Hartley, farmer (1836) (summary)

To wife Elizabeth: all household goods, furniture, plate, linen, china, wine and liquor and other perishable goods etc. "I give and devise all my freehold messuages, lands, tenements and hereditaments and real estate whatsoever situate unto my said dear wife and her assigns, for the term of her natural life if she shall so long continue my widow and unmarried. And after her decease or marry again, I give and devise the messuage in Hartley where I now dwell with the garden, orchard, land and appurtenances thereunto belonging, containing in whole 3 acres or thereabouts as the same are now in my occupation, to my daughter Mary Ann, the wife of Owen Parsons, if she shall then be living and her assigns for the term of her natural life, and to the residue of my said real estate after the decease of my said wife, or he marrying again, and as to the said messuage and land with the appurtenances now in my own occupation after the determination of the said life estates therein, I give and devise the same unto and to the use of my son William Bensted and his assigns for the term of his natural life, without impeachment of waste...." then to be divided equally between any sons of his son William as tenants in common.

Provisions after wife's death to invest 2,000 on securities for Mary Ann Parsons, but husband cannot use money for any debts. Various other provisions about this money.

To grandsons George Cass and William Bensted Cass, children of his daughter Elizabeth Cass - 500 each.

Residue of personal estate to son William.

Executors to be wife, son and John Jorson of Milton next Sittingbourne.

Dated 5 May 1832

Witnesses: Thomas Broadley, solicitor of Dartford, Kent.

William Cracroft Fooks, [...] his clerks.

Proved at London, 3 May 1836.

Probate Registry

Will of William Bensted of Hartley Court (1857)


1. All his freehold lands to Mary his widow for her life, or while she remains a widow; then to his sons William Bensted and Henry Bensted as tenants in common.

2. As regards his leasehold and personal estate, he appoints his wife and sons as trustees thereof, with power to increase holdings, buy and sell cattle, crops, farm implements, hire bailiffs etc. And power to discontinue or abridge the farming business if it seems expedient to the trustees. Profits to be paid to Mary, for her maintenance, while she remains a widow and for the maintenance of her unmarried children.

3. He directs his trustees to sell such of his personal estate, and is not in securities or not required for the purposes of his will. And the monies raised together with his securities, after funeral expenses and legacies have been deducted, to be invested in Government stocks. The interest is to be paid to Mary during her life or widowhood, for the maintenance of her and her unmarried children. And afterwards to remain and be in trust for all his children, to be divided between them equally as tenants in common; the share of any deceased child will be divided between their children (excepting the children of his late daughter Mary Beach, who are otherwise provided for). For sons their shares are to immediately vest in them on his death (sic). For daughters, the trustees are to hold the stocks for them while they are under coverture, so their husbands cannot use it. If a daughter dies then her share goes to her children equally as tenants in common, sons to receive their share when 21, daughters when they are 21 or marry with their guardian's consent. If a daughter dies with children, then their share passes under their will, or if no will, under the laws of intestacy of personal goods.

4. Provisions as to powers, appointment and payment of trustees.

5. Wife Mary and sons William and Henry appointed trustees.

Dated 7 January 1857. Witnesses John Hayward of Dartford, solicitor; Agnes Randall of St Leonards on Sea, Sussex.

Proved at London by William and Henry Bensted with power reserved to Mary, 4 February 1868.