John Old the younger
Gentleman and Mercer
John Old the Younger was born in Yeovil in the late seventeenth century. He was the son of John Old the Elder, a mercer or dealer in textiles. John Old the Elder, who died in 1710, was churchwarden at St John's church in 1676. His son, John Old the Younger, was also a Yeovil mercer, and he became Custos, and later Warden, of Woborn Almshouse.
The building known as "John Old's House" in Princes Street is a 17th century residence John Old the Younger inherited from his father which he 'modernised' in the year 1714 - his initials "IO" and the date 1714 are on a lead rainwater head on the side of the house, illustrated below left and in the gallery below.
Above left is a blocked 17th century window with a hood moulding in the gable end and predating acquisition by John the Younger. His 'modernising' of the house included replacing the thatched roof with tiles and casement windows with sash windows.
John Old the Younger married Elizabeth Hayne, daughter of Jeremiah Hayne, and they had a daughter, Mary. In his will dated 1728 John wrote "I give and bequeath unto my daughter Mary Old the sume of Two Thousand pounds to be paid her when and as soone as she shall attain her age of one and twenty yearse". To put this in perspective £2,000 in 1728 was worth about £4,500,000 at 2017's value. However there was also a clause stating "Butt Upon this Condition that if she shall happen to marry before that age without the Consent and Approbation of my said wife (if liveing) first had under her hand that then the said two Thousand pounds is to be and remaine unto my Executor herein after named" - in other words, get married without Mum's blessing and you don't get the cash! As it transpired in October 1739 Mary married Samuel Goodford of the Inner Temple and a "Gentleman of Trent" thus ensuring she eventually got both the cash and the house.
John Old the Younger, as well as owning "Household Plate and Jewells" also owned the neighbouring property in Princes Street which he had "purchased from Mr Prowse" and both these properties he left to his wife. He also owned lands in Queen Camel and Babcary which he bequeathed to his nephew Samuel Dampier.
John the Younger was frequently involved in substantial land and property dealings, for example a lease of 1711 records "20 messuages, 10 cottages, 1 water grinding mill, 400a of land, 200a meadow, 300a pasture in Hinton, Mudford, Yeovil, Yeovil Marsh, Trent and Adber. Geo Cholmondley conveys to John Old and Amos Prowse the above" and in a lease dated 17 November 1713 is recorded "George Vincent does grant, surrender and yield to John Old all that messuage and land in Hinton [St George] in consideration John Old does agree with George Vincent to pay to George Vincent £200. It is further agreed that there is 5 acres now sown with wheat which JO agrees to pay to GV £15 and therefore GV agrees to surrender on 2 February 1714 to JO the lease providing that GV does not carry away any dung or soil or cut any wood or put any cattle onto ground now sown with wheat."
John Old the Younger died in 1728 and was buried in St John's churchyard on 18 March 1728 and his widow Elizabeth had his will proved in London on 4 May 1833. Elizabeth, however, had already remarried - in July 1831 to Samuel Goodford, her daughter Mary's father-in-law.
The Last Will and Testament of John Old the Younger
In the name of God Amen I John Old of Yeovill in the County of Somersett Gent being Weake of Body but of a sound understanding (thanks be to God) Do make this my last Will and Testament in manner following Imprimis I give unto my deare wife Elizabeth Old All my household goods [word illegible] of Household Plate and Jewells Item And I also give unto my said Wife the house wherein I now dwell and give the house thereunto adjoining which I lately purchased of our Mr Prowse with the Gardens outhouse and appurtenances thereunto belonging for the whole of her life Item I will that the revertion after the death of my wife And alsoe that all other my lande tenements and hereditaments whatsoever shall descend unto the heires of my body lawfully begotten or [word illegible] begotten but my Will desire and meaninges that my said wife shall hold and enjoy receive and take all [word illegible] and profitts of my reall Estate until such of the heires of my body as shall be intituled to the same shall attaine his or her age of one and twenty years and in case I shall happen to Have no Heirs of my body begotten who shall attain the age of one and twenty years that then and in that case I give devise and bequeath all my lands and hereditaments lying in the several Parishes of Queene Camel and Babcary in the County of Somersett unto my Nephew Samuel Dampier and the heirs of his body begotten or to be begotten and in default of such [word illegible] unto my Nephew William Dampier and his heirse for ever and as to all other my lands tenements and hereditaments whatsoever and the Revertion of my said house In case no [Child ?] Of my body shall live to attain his or her age of one and twenty years as aforesaid I give and devise the same for my said wife Elizabeth Old her heires and assigns for ever Item I give and bequeath unto my daughter Mary Old the sume of Two Thousand pounds to be paid her when and as soone as she shall attain her age of one and twenty yearse Butt Upon this Condition that if she shall happen to marry before that age without the Consent and Approbation of my said wife (if liveing) first had under her hand that then the said two Thousand pounds is to be and remaine unto my Executor herein after named Item And [word illegible] constituted my said wife to be the Whole and Soul Guardian of my Children and to be Educated as she shall thinke proper and convenient And also my mind and Will is and I hereby authorize and impower my said wife if she shall happen to dye during the minority of my Children or of any or either of them to committ the Care and dedication of my Child or Children and of his her or their Estate and Fortune to any person or persons the may said Wife by any Deed instrument will or writeing Subscribed by her in the presence of two or more Creditable Witnesses shall nominate direct or appoint Item all the rest and residue of my personall Estate goods and chattels of what nature or kind soever not hearing before disposed of I give and bequeath unto my said wife Elizabeth Old who am I make and appoint Whole and Sole Executrix and Residuary Legatee of this my last Will and Testament hereby revoking all other Wills by me at any time heretofore made declaring this to be my last Will and Testament in witness whereof I have hereunto sett my hand and seale this twentyeth day of January in the Second yeare of the reigne of our Lord King George the second and in the yeare of our Lord one Thousand Seaven hundred twenty and Eight John Old signed sealed published and declared by the Testator John Old to be his last Will and Testament in the presence of us who have at his request and in his presence sett our names as witnesses - Saml Daniell Jun. Gorg Hayne James Samson
This will was proved at London the Fourth day of the month of May in the yeare of our Lord one Thousand Seven Hundred and thirty three before the Worshipful Charles Penfold Doctor of Lawe and Surrogate to the right worshipful John Bettesworth Doctor also of Lawe Master Keeper or Commissary of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury Lawfully Constituted By the Oath of Elizabeth Goodford otherwise Old (now wife of Samuel Goodford) the Relict of the said deceased and Sole Executrix in the said Will named To whome was granted administration of all and singular the goods chattels and Hereditts of the said deceased She being first sworn duely to administer the same.
Transcribed by Bob Osborn
Note - the sum of two thousand pounds mentioned in John Old's will is, at 2017's value, roughly equivalent to £4.5 million.
John Old's house, at centre, set in the Princes Street streetscape. John Old the Younger also purchased the adjoining property, but which side is not known - unlikely to be either of the present buildings. Photographed in 2013.
Seen from the other direction, the blocked 17th century gable window is seen at high level and the rainwater hopper, dated 1714, is seen left of centre. Photographed in 2013.