Tom Patch

The Story

In a dimly lit room, lying on a bed of coarse hempen sheets and rough woollen blankets, a labourer is breathing his last in the cottage of a neighbour. There is no time to fetch the parson or a lawyer to take down his will. Around the bed are two neighbours and his only son. The date is 5th November 1718 and the place is the village of Yelvertoft in Northamptonshire. In front of these witnesses he gasps out his verbal will, which, the following month, they will report, under oath, at a church court:

...my house in Yelvertoft shall continue in the possession of my wife so long as she continue unmarried, and all my goods in the house, but after her marriage, or death, which[ever] shall first happen, I give the goods to my daughter.

And I give my dear wife 5 in money and to my only son Thomas, a guinea. And the use of my money I give to my daughter Elizabeth. And my hog and cow I give to be equally divided between my wife and daughter, and my house at Lutterworth, as also the reversion of my house in Yelvertoft, I give to my son...1

A week or so later a Bond of Administration2 was granted to the widow and the son: Ann Patch of Yelvertoft, widow and Thomas Patch of West Haddon, yeoman.

1Nuncupative will of Thomas Patch of Yelvertoft, 1718

2Admon of Thomas Patch of Yelvertoft, 1718