yeovil people

Ambrose Seward

Mercer and Gentleman of Yeovil

 

Unfortunately for us, there were several Yeovil men named Ambrose Seward or Seaward - most likely different generations of the same family -  and many records refer to them. However, determining which is which, is quite difficult.

In 1647 an Ambrose Seaward was recorded as the Constable of the Borough of Yeovil in the Quarter Sessions when a petition was presented by Thomas Brooke, John Pawly, Giles Fry and Steven King "Shewing that in the tyme of the late greate contagion in Yevell wherein manie hundred soules died, and the sickness growing soe daungerous that noe living would undertake to bury the deade infected bodies: And thereupon Gregory Reinoldes being then Constable of the hundred, and Ambrose Seward constable of the burrowe of Yevell, persuaded your petitioners to undertake the carrying and burying of the dead bodies, and promised to pay xiiijd [14d] for everie day so longe as they would undertake that daungerous service, which your petitioners did truly and diligemtly perform by the space of eleaven weeks to the great hazard of their lives, and loss of earninge other better daily wages abroade, which they were abridged of a long tyme together. But so it is the said Reynoldes dyinge your poor petitioners cannot get their wages from the said Seward soe that they are like to lose that which they so daungerousdly laboured for, unles your worshippes will be pleased to yeale them relief."

An Ambrose Seward was a mercer (a dealer in textile fabrics, especially silks, velvets, and other fine materials) in the Borough and produced his own farthing tokens during the Commonwealth when no official copper coinage was produced. He was Warden of the Woborn Almshouse in 1661 and Custos in 1663. In 1664 the Poor Rate return recorded that he paid eight shillings a month for a property in the Borough and a further eight shillings a month for a property in Kingston - sixteen shillings a month was a substantial monthly Poor Rate sum (around £115 at today's value), suggesting that Ambrose was fairly affluent. It is likely that this Ambrose Seward was the one recorded as Ambrose Seward Snr in the Poor Rate Returns of 1684 and 1689.

His likely son, also Ambrose Seward, was recorded as a mercer in the Woborn Muniments and was also Custos of the Almshouse in 1695 and again in 1704. He served as a Churchwarden from 1706 to 1708. In 1736 he was mentioned in Parliamentary papers as Ambrose Jnr, glover, and in a lease dated 29 December 1737 he was described as Ambrose Jnr, Linendraper.

 


 

The Ambrose Seward under discussion here was also mercer and was described as a gentleman. He was probably born in Yeovil around 1725. His father was most likely the last-mentioned Ambrose Seward, and his mother was Mary Morehead (presumably she remarried after the death of Ambrose's father). He had a sister Ann, who became Ann Howard upon marriage.

The monthly Poor Rate Return listed Ambrose as paying 1s 8d per month for a property in the Borough in 1760, the same year he became Custos of the Woborn Almshouse. He was a Warden of the Almshouse thereafter, becoming Custos again in 1774.

Ambrose Seward wrote his last will and testament (see below) in 1775.

He served as a Warden of the Woborn Almshouse from 1775 until 1777 and was recorded as a mercer in the Woborn Muniments of 1777.

A report of 1820 by the Charity Commissioners refers to Ambrose Seward leasing the Church House [see Gallery] in the Borough - "The Church-house is now held by Peter Daniell, esq. as the assignee of three distinct leases of different parts thereof. The lease of the principal part bears date 18th July 1778, and was granted by Edward Phelips and others as the surviving trustees, in consideration of the surrender of a term of 99 years, determinable on the death of Mary Morehead [Ambrose's mother], described to be then in a weak state of health; and a fine of 30l (£30) to be laid out for the benefit of the town and parish of Yeovil, to Ambrose Seward for 99 years, if T Barret aged 16, J Bullock aged 16, and Edward Bartlett aged 15, should so long live, at the rent of 20s; and the premises are described as being a messuage or dwellinghouse consisting of the kitchen and little room within the same; a large chamber over the kitchen; the cellar; the yard or backside; the great chamber, facing the borough and market-house, with a garret of cock-loft over; and three chambers, within the said chamber, facing the aid borough and market-house, and all ways and appurtenances to the same belonging."

Ambrose Seward died in Yeovil at the end of 1778 and his will was proved in London on 16 February 1779. Apart from his mother and sister, his will of 18 July 1775 makes no mention of a wife or children and his wealth is distributed to others.

 

Postscript

There were, in fact two other men called Ambrose Seward, father and son, alive in Yeovil concurrent with the Ambrose Seward of this page. In 1783 Ambrose Jnr was described as the owner of the Catherine Wheel. Since this was immediately behind the Church House described above, this Ambrose Seward must have a close relative, such as a cousin. He died in 1784. His father, Ambrose Seward Snr., was described as a mercer in 1786.

 

gallery

 

A farthing token produced by Ambrose Seward during the Commonwealth. This Ambrose was likely the great-grandfather of the Ambrose Seward under discussion here.

 

This sketch, made by Madeley to illustrate his map of 1831, shows the Borough seen from High Street - roughly the view seen today from the north end of King George Street. The Shambles is to the left and the Market House is to the right. The Church House, occupied by Ambrose Seward in the 1770s, is seen in the background between the Shambles and the Market House. The buildings at far left still stand today, that to the left is Clement White's shop, today's 8 High Street, at this time occupied by Benjamin Ryall, a draper, whose name appears above the door.

 

Will of Ambrose Seward, 1775

 

The Last Will and Testament of Ambrose Seward

 

 

This is the Last Will and Testament of me Ambrose Seward of Yeovil in the County of Somerset Gentleman First I give devise and bequeath unto Ann Knight of Closworth in the County of Somerset Spinster and John Bullock of East Coker in the same County Gentleman and to the survivor of them and to the Heirs Executors Administrators and Assigns of such Survivor all my Freehold and Chattle Estates of what nature or kind soever either in fee or for terms of Years I shall die seized of interested in and entitled unto either in possessions revertion remainder or expectancy subject to an Annuity or clear Yearly Sum of Fifteen pounds payable unto my servant Mary Pestor as hereinafter is mentioned In Trust to pay and apply the said Annuity of fifteen pounds unto my Mother Mary Moorhead for and during the term of her natural Life for the support and maintenance of herself and my Sister Ann Howard and in case my Sister shall happen to survive my Mother then I charge and make rechargeable all my said estates with the payment of the clear Yearly Sum of sixty pounds unto her for and during the term of her natural life and I direct my said Trustees to pay the same to my said Sister by four equal Quarterly payments to her sole separate and distinct use without the [word illegible] of any Husband she may hereafter take for which her receipt or [over ?] only shall from time to time be a sufficient discharge for the same the first payment thereof to begin and be made in three Months after the decease of my Mother and from and after the decease of the survivor of them my said Mother and Sister I direct that my said Trustees and the Survivor of them and the Heirs Executors Administrators and Assigns of such Survivor do sell and dispose of all my Estate Right Title and Interest therein and thereto subject to the said Annuity of fifteen pounds at publick Survey for the best price that can got for the same and out of the [word illegible] arising by such sale to pay unto Mrs Elizabeth Daniel wife of Mr John Daniel of Yeovil aforesaid Gentleman her Executors Administrators and Assigns the sum of forty pounds and to [Gertrude ?] Bullock wife of Mr Edward Bullock of Yeovil aforesaid Butcher her Executors Administrators and Assigns the sum of forty pounds and remainder or surplus I direct to be divided in fourteen equal shares parts or portions which I Give and Bequeath in manner and form following that is to say one fourteenth share or part thereof unto the said John Bullock his Executors Administrators and Assigns one other fourteenth share or part thereof unto his Brother George Bullock his Executors Administrators and Assigns one other fourteenth share or part thereof unto his Sister Mary Rood [inserted] wife of John Rood [end of insert] her Executors Administrators and Assigns one other fourteenth share or part thereof unto his Sister Alice Masters Wife of Thomas masters of Yeovil aforesaid Glover her Executors Administrators and Assigns one other fourteenth share or part thereof unto his Sister Grace Foot wife of James Foot of Yeovil aforesaid Roper her Executors Administrators and Assigns which said John George Mary Alice and Grace are the children of John Bullock late of East Coker aforesaid deceased by Mary his wife also deceased who was one of the daughters of Samuel Seward late of Sutton Bingham in the county of Somerset aforesaid clerk deceased one other fourteenth share or part thereof unto the said Ann Knight her Executors Administrators and Assigns one other fourteenth share or part thereof unto Mary Beacham [inserted] wife of George Beacham [end of insert] late of Yeovil aforesaid Glover but now of the City of London her Executors Administrators and Assigns one other fourteenth share or part thereof unto Jane Edwards Wife of Francis Edwards of the City of London Attorney at Law her Executors Administrators and Assigns one other fourteenth share or part thereof unto Isabella Mitchell of East Coker aforesaid Widow her Executors Administrators and Assigns which said Ann Mary Jane and Isabella last mentioned are the children of Thomas Knight late of Yeovil aforesaid Gentleman deceased by Elizabeth his Wife also deceased late Elizabeth Seward Sister of the said Samuel Seward deceased one other fourteenth share or part thereof unto Samuel Rendell of Cerne Abbas in the County of Dorset Gentleman his Executors Administrators and Assigns deceased one other fourteenth share or part thereof unto Mary Howard of Yeovil aforesaid Spinster Grandaughter of the said Samuel Seward her Executors Administrators and Assigns one other fourteenth share or part thereof unto Mary Burdett otherwise Burnett of Sutton Bingham aforesaid Spinster Seward her Executors Administrators and Assigns one other fourteenth share or part thereof unto William Burdett otherwise Burnett late of the same place Millwright his Executors Administrators and Assigns and the other remaining fourteenth share or part thereof unto Robert Burdett otherwise Burnett of Halstock in the County of Dorset aforesaid Miller his Executors Administrators and Assigns which said Mary Burdett William Burdett and Robert Burdett otherwise Burnett are the children of Peter Burdett otherwise Burnett late of Sutton Bingham aforesaid Miller deceased by Ann his wife late Ann Seward one other of the Daughters of the said Samuel Seward deceased Also I Give Devise and Bequeath to Elizabeth Cayme [inserted] widow of Richard Cayme [end of insert] of Yeovil aforesaid Hosier deceased the sum of forty pounds Also I Give and Bequeath unto Mary Ludgate widow her Sister the sum of forty pounds which said [word illegible] last mentioned Legacies I direct to be paid in one month after my decease and I Give and bequeath the said annuity or the yearly sum of fifteen pounds for the payment of which I have before subjected all my real and Chattle Estates unto the said Mary [Pester ?] for and during the term of her natural life to be paid her by my said Trustees by four even quarterly payments the first payment thereof to begin and be made in three Months after my decease and I charge and make chargeable all the rest residue and remainder of my Goods Chattels and Personal Estate with the payment of my Debts the Legacies to the said Elizabeth Cayme and Mary Ludgate and my Funeral Expenses which I direct be decent and becoming my station and after payment of the same which I devise to be done with all convenient speed I direct that my Mother be paid out of the surplus if any the sum of forty pounds and the residue I give and bequeath equally between the said Ann Knight and John Bullock their Executors Administrators and Assigns and in case my said Residuary personal Estate shall not be sufficient to discharge the same then I charge and make chargeable all my said real and Chattle Estate with the payments of the same and I do hereby forgive and discharge all Debts of what nature or kind soever that shall be due and owing to me from my said Mother and Sister or either of them at the time of my decease also discharging my said Trustees from all Debts I may there over to them the Annuity and why I have by this [word illegible] given them to be excepted out of such Discharge and I trust my said Trustees to permit and suffer my said Mother to inhabit the Tenement I now live in for her life if she chuse it And Lastly I nominate constitute and appoint the said Ann Knight and John Bullock joint Executors of this my last Will and Testament In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my Hand and Seal this Eighteenth day of July in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy five - Amb Seward - Signed Sealed Published and Declared by the Testator as and for his last Will and Testament containing four sheets of paper annexed together to the first three of which he has to each set his Hand and to the last his Hand and Seal in the presence of us who at his request and in the presence of him and of each other do subscribe our names in Witness thereof - James Upcott Thos Hobbs John Bishop

This Will was proved at London the sixteenth day of February in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy nine before the Right Worshipful Peter Calvert Doctor of Law Master Keeper or Commissary of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury lawfully constituted by the oaths of Ann Knight Spinster and John Bullock the Executors named in the said will to whom Adm[inistrati]on was granted of all and singular the Goods Chattels and Credits of the Deceased having been first sworn by Commission duly to administer.

 

Transcribed by Bob Osborn

 
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