Will of Edward Best of Hartley, yeoman (1719)
Although he lived at Middle Farm, he was only the tenant there. The freehold house and 2 fields he refers to is the future Black Lion.
In the name of God, Amen. I Edward Best the elder of Hartley in the county of Kent, yeoman, being aged and infirm, but of sound and disposing mind and memory (praised be God for the same) do make and ordain this my last will and testament in writing in manner and form following (that is to say).
First and most principally I do with all humility assign up my poor and immortal soul into the hands of Almighty God my creator, hoping through the merits, death and passion of my redeemer Jesus Christ to have and receive full and free pardon and forgiveness of all my sins, and to inherit eternal life in the Kingdom of Glory, and my body I commit to the earth to be decently buried at the discretion of my executor hereafter named within the churchyard belonging to the parish church of Hartley.
And as for the disposition of all such wordly estate, as God of his bouneous goodness hath been pleased to bestow upon me, I give, devise and bequeath the same as followeth.
First I give, will and devise that all such just debts which I shall owe at the time of my decease, and also my funeral expenses be paid and discharged by my executor hereafter named out of my personal estate.
Item: I give and bequeath unto my son Edward Best, the sum of £10 of lawful money of Great Britain, to be paid unto him by my executor hereafter named within 12 months next after my decease out of my personal estate.
Item: I give and bequeath unto my son John Best, the sum of £20 of like money, to be paid unto him by my executor hereafter named within 12 months next after my decease out of my personal estate.
Item: I give and bequeath all that my messuage or tenement with the barn and appurtenances thereunto belonging, and also all those 2 pieces or parcels of land with the appurtenances now in the tenure, occupation or possession of Richard Day or his assigns, situate, standing, lying and being in Hartley I the county of kent aforesaid, and all other my messuages, lands, tenements and hereditaments whatsoever unto my son William Best, his heirs and assigns. To have and to hold unto my said son William Best, his heirs and assigns forever.
Item: I give and bequeath unot my said son William Best, all the rest, residue and remainder of my personal estate whatsoever or wheresoever, or of what nature, kind or quality soever after my debts, legacies and funeral expenses are paid and discharged. And I do hereby nominate and appoint my said son William Best sole executor of this my will.
And lastly I do hereby revoke all former or other wills by me heretofore made, and do hereby appoint and declare this only to be my last will and testament.
In witness whereof I have to this my will contained in one sheet of paper, set my hand and seal this 12th day of January in the 5th year of the reign of our sovereign lord George by the Grace of God of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith etc, and in the year of the Lord 1718/19.
(X) The mark of William Best, the testator
Signed, sealed, published and declared by the said Edward Best the testator (the words "unto my son William Best" being first scratched otu in the 16th line and the word "my" being first interlined) in the presence of us who in the said testator's presence and at his request have subscribed our names as witnesses hereunto.
(S) Thomas Copland
(S) John Young
(S) John Tasker
Will of William Best of Hartley, yeoman (1728)
Reference: CKS DRa/PW7
Edward Best mentions a house and 6 acres owned by himself - an early reference to the Black Lion before it became a pub in 1731.
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
Witnesses: (S) Thomas Young; (S) James Ashdowne
Proved 2 November 1728
Will of Edward Best of Hartley, yeoman, 1803
Reference: TNA PROB11/1401
Edward Best was the tenant of Middle Farm.
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
Date: 7 October 1800 (includes note of changes made since previous will)
Witnesses: Christopher Bedingfield of Gravesend
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
Witnesses: [...] Wilson, Christopher Bedingfield
Proved at London by Mordecai and William Andrus, two of the executors, 3 December 1803.
Mary Best of Hartley, spinster, 1847
Reference: TNA PROB11/2048
Mary Best was born in Hartley in 1800, the daughter of Edward and Esther, at the time of her death she was in service to Thomas Deane of Bay Lodge, Ash Road.
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
Witnesses: John Ryan, surgeon of Farningham, Thamas Wakerman, bailiff of North Ash Farm.
Proved at London 16 January 1847.