Henry Bezant and his wife Mary lived at Laxfield, a large and pleasant village in the county of Suffolk, England. Henry was a yeoman, or farmer who owned his land, and, judging from items named in his will, must have also made sieves. Life was comfortable, and Henry and Mary had many years together. Most of their children, born in the late 1600's, lived to marry and have children of their own, children which Henry and Mary watched grow to adulthood, too.
Mary died in 1745. Eighteen years later, in May of 1763, though he was very old, Henry dictated his last will and testament.
Henry directed that grave stones “for me and Mary my Wife” be “Handsomly Engraved and Decently fixed at our places of Interrment.” He also desired that his sons, daughters, and grandchildren should keep the properties given to them in “Good and Tenantable Repair.” He appointed Robert Smith of Wilby, Cooper, and Samuel Aldous of Fressingfield, Blacksmith (his grandson-in-law), as the executors of his will.
Henry died 27 June 1763, according to his tombstone, which gives his age as 102 years. His burial entry in the Laxfield registers, 30 June 1763, states that he was aged 101 years 6 months.
Who died June 27 1763
Aged 102 years
Here loves within his Mother clay
Until the joyful resurection day
The body of one who as it here appears
Survived long Mans common date of years
He lived near one hundred years and two
And then resign'd to death what was his due
Find the like Instance reader if you can
Of one that live'd so long and died and Honest Man
WILL OF HENRY BEZANT 14 MAY 1763
In the name of God Amen
I Henry Bezant of Laxfield in the county of Suffolk, Yeoman; considering the certainty of Death, and uncertainty of this Mortal Life, and being of sound and perfect mind and Memory, Blessed be Almighty God for the same. Do hereby make and publish this my Last Will and Testament in maner and form Following. First and principally I recommend my Soul into the Hands of Almighty God who gave it me, and my Body to the Earth to be decently Buried in Christian Burial by my Exec. herein after named and as touching that Worldly Estate God hath pleased to Bless me with. Dispose of the same as herein after mentioned. ITEM I give and Devise unto John Bezant my Grandson, Son of John Bezant my son, all that my Coppyhold, Messuage, Lands and premises with all the Appurtenances thereunto belonging Situate Lying and being in Laxfield in the county aforesd. and now in the use, and Occupation of Edward Huggins and John Starkey, and to his Heirs and Assigns forever, Subject and Lyable and the pay out thereof unto Ann Bezant his Mother the Wife of John Bezant my Son the sum of Forty Shillings a Year, Yearly and every Year During ye Term of her Natural Life, by two Even & Equal payments in the Year, the first payment to be made within one half year next after my Decease, and so to continue as herein specified. And Also the sum of two pounds two shillings, of Lawful money of Great Britain to Each of my Executors herein after named for and towards their trouble and satisfaction in the Fullfilling Executing and Performing of this my will. ITEM I give & Devise unto Sarah Curtis my Daughter and to her disposing all that my Coppyhold Messuage Lands & Premises with their Appurtenances Situate Lying and being in Saxtead in ye county aforesd. now in ye use & occupation of Robt Read and if ye said Sarah Curtis my Daughter shall have departed this Life before my decease, then I give ye aforesd. Coppyhold Messuage Lands & Premises with their Appurtenances Situate in Saxtead in ye county aforesd. to be Sold Immediately or as soon as conveniently may be, after my decease, by my Executors herein after named, and the money arising therefrom to be equally Divided Between so many of ye Children of the aforesd Sarah Curtis as shall then be living. ITEM I give and Devise unto Enoch Bezant my Son all that my part Freehold Messuage Lands & Premises together with the Shop I Work in, and also the Yard below the Shop with all the Appurtenances thereunto belonging Situate lying & being in Laxfield, in the county aforesd. now in the use & occupation of myself and James Heaken to----- to him the said Enoch Bezant my Son during the Term of his Natural Life and from and Immediately after ye decease of the said Enoch Bezant my son I give & Devise all the aforesd. Freehold Messuage Lands & Premises with their Appurtenances unto Sarah Bezant, the now wife of him the said Enoch Bezant, Son, for and during the Term of her Natural Life, and from and Immediately after the decease of her the said Sarah Bezant, I Give and Devise all the aforesd freehold Messuage Lands and premises with all their Appurtenances to Thomas Bezant my grandson, son of Enoch Bezant my Son and to his Heirs and Assigns forever. He paying out of thereof unto so many Brothers and Sisters of his as shall then be living, the full sum of Five pounds Each of Lawfull Money of Great Britain, within one year next after the decease of her the said Sarah Bezant my Daughter in Law. ITEM I give and Devise unto Mary Huggins my daughter all that Moiety and Other part of freehold Messuage Lands and premises together with the Shop at the West End of the Dwelling House with all the Appurtenances Situate and Lying and being in Laxfield in the county aforesd. now in the use and Occupation of John Pain, to hold to her the said Mary Huggins my Daughter for and during the Term of her Natural Life, and from and Immediately after the decease of her the said Mary Huggins my Daughter, I Give and Devise all the aforesaid Freehold Messuage Lands and premises with their Appurtenances, to be Sold by my Executors herein after named as soon as conveniently may be, and the Money arising therefrom, to be Equally Divided Between so many of the children of the said Mary Huggins my Daughter, as shall then be Living share and share alike. ITEM I give and Bequeath unto Mary Barker my Daughter in Law the sum of two pounds of Lawfull Money of Great Britan. ITEM I give and Bequeath unto Henry Bezant my Grandson, Son of Henry Bezant my Son, the Sum of Sixteen pounds of Lawfull Money of Great Britain. ITEM I give and Bequeath unto Mary Rayner my Grandaughter the sum of three pounds of Lawfull Money of Great Britain. ITEM I give and Bequeath unto James Bezant my Son, the Sum of two pounds of Lawfull Money of Great Britain. Which said four Several Legacies, or sums of Money I will and order shall be paid to the four respective Legatees within Six Months next after my Decease by my Executors herein after named. ITEM I give and Bequeath unto Enoch Bezant, my Son All my working Tools belonging to my trade and also all the Tools in Husbandry, freely to be enjoy'd by him without any Obstruction or Molestation whatsoever. ITEM I give unto Mary Huggins my Daughter all my Linnen (Shirts only Excepted) by her freely to be enjoy'd. ITEM I give and Bequeath unto Benjamin Bezant my Son, all my Household Goods and Bedding that is in the Low Rooms and Chamber (the Old Brewing Tub and the Table in the Kitchen only Excepted) by him freely to be Enjoy'd. ITEM I give and Bequeath unto Edward Huggins my Grandson, all my Stock in Trade Sieves and Sieve-Rims freely to be enjoy'd by him. And Lastly all the rest, residue and remainder of my goods chattles, and personal Estate whatsoever I give to be equally Divided among so many of my Sons and Daughters, as shall then be Living. For ---- paying out thereof, all my Just Debts Funeral Charges, Probate of this my Will, and Charge of two Grave Stones for me, and Mary my wife to be Handsomly Engraved, and Decently fixed at our places of Internment. And further my will and Desire is that all and every of my Sons, Daughters, and Grand Children, Shall uphold Maintain and keep all and Singular the aforesaid Free and Coppyhold Messuage Lands and premises, Respectively Given to them, in Good and Tenantable Repair during their respective Lives. And I do hereby nominate and Appoint Robert Smith of Whilby in the county of Suffolk Cooper, and Samuel ---- of Fressingfield in the county aforesaid Blacksmith, my Executors, of this my Last Will and Testament. Desiring them faithfully and carefully to perform the same according to the true Intent and meaning hereof, and now Revoaking all former Wills by me hereto foremade. And Also I do declare this to be my Last Will and Testament contained in One Sheet of Writing Paper. IN WITNESS whereof I have hereunto set my Hand and Seal this Fourteen Day of May in the third year of the Reign of our sovereign Lord George the third by the Grace of God of Great Britian France and Ireland King Defender of the Faith and so forth, and in the year of our Lord One Thousand and Seven Hundred and Sixty Three.
Sealed published and Declared by the above mamed Henry Bezant to be his Last Will and Testament in the presence of us who have hereunto Inscribed our Names as Witnesses in the presence of the Testator
John Girling The marke of
---- Henry Bezant
at Stradbrooke the 25th July 1763 the Executors within named were sworne and in due fo--- of law before the Revd William Johnson ---- to ye commty above ---- (-sheets)
The Last Will and Testament of Henry Bezant of Laxfield in the county of Suffolk Dated the ---- May 1763
Aged 102 Years