From records in the posession of Tim Farr.
Stephen Aldous and his second cousin, Margaret Aldous, fell in love and were married in about 1602. Both had been born in the parish of Fressingfield, Suffolk, England, he in 1579 and she three years earlier. They lived at a farm called Bourneys, which had been in Stephen's family for several generations. Stephen had been only four years of age, the youngest child in his family, when his father died, and as he grew up he shared the home with his mother and four sisters.
About twenty years after marriage Stephen prepared his last will and testament, written in extreme detail. Since the house and grounds at Bourneys came to him and Margaret furnished and in use the premises probably did not change much in that twenty years. From the information in the will we can, in imagination, walk into the rooms of the house in which Stephen and Mrgaret lived, rooms where their two daughters and three sons were born and played; rooms where companionship was enjoyed, tears were shed; where there was talk (both pleasant and otherwise), laughter, and music.
The nicest room in the house, the main room, was called the hall. In it was a "long Table," flanked by "two long Formes [seats or benches]." Against one wall was a "great Cubberd." There were several chairs, including a "back chayre [probably a small chair with a back on it]"; "great chaires Fwhich may have been a type of couch]"; and "one litle buffet stoole." Two "carpet cushions" are also mentioned. There was a "Round foult [folding or folded] Table," and a table on which stood the "virginalls." The latter was the forerunner of the piano, small and rectangular, with no legs, having one wire to a note. Though it was one instrument, it was often referred to in the plural. The keys were "played" or tapped as are piano keys. Among the accessories in the room were Stephen's "birding peece [fowling gun]," "a laver [basin] of Brasse," a "great Bible," a "second Bible," and "one litle glass keeps."
The "parlour" was apparently the master bedroom, for in it was the "best Bedstead" with "the Featherbed bouistr blanckets, and coveriett, therupon, and all things therunto belonging." There was also "one Trundle bedstead wth a Featherbed therupon.11 Additionally, the room contained a "wicker chayre," a "Table wth a longe Forme therto belongings," a "great hutche," one "trunck," a coffer, a "hatt keepe," and the family's "third Bible."
The "parlour chamber," the room above the parlor (we learn from Stephen's grandfather's will), accommodated a "posted bedstead with the featherbed, boulster, blancket, and Covrlett therupon, and all things therunto belonging," in addition to a "long Table wth a forme therto belonging," "one buffett stoole," "One Truncke," and a "great Boxe."
In the "hall chamber," over the hall, was another "posted bed stead" with its "Feathrbed boulster blanckets & coverlett" and "oth er things therto belonging," and another "Trundle bedstead wth a flocke [tufted] bedbouister, blancket and Covrlett." This room had a third bedstead ''marked with theis letters M:A: wth a Feather bed boulster, and covering therupon," and, like other rooms, a "long Table & forme." Here, also, stood a "great hutchell and two coffers. Both of the coffers are called "great," meaning large, and one is specified as "where my lyning [linen] lye." For each of the beds in the house mention was made of two pairs of sheets, a pillow, and a "pillowbeere [pillowcase]." In this room, the hall chamber ' with the coffer for the household linen, was the "best Table cloath wth 6 Table napkyns," as well as a "second board cloathell and six "Table napkyns."
The fifth room in the house was the "butterye," or pantry. The only furniture Stephen listed as being in it was the "plate cub berd." Specific cookware consisted of a "biggest brasse pott," a "biggest brasse pott saving one For second biggest pot]." and a "biggest kettle saving one." Dishes and utensils included "2 of my biggest pewter plattrs,,, five additional pewter platters (plates to us?), some pewter "salts [individual salt containers]," a "best pewtr pott, " and "two pewter saucers." There were also silver spoons, some engraved with the letters "S.A." and some with "M.A."
After the rooms of the house Stephen mentioned the "Browene," and in it the "great boulting hutche." The "Browernell was named in the will of Stephen's grandfather Robert, on the same property called Bourneys, and in Robert's will the Browerne was said to have a "sol let" over it. A bolting hutch would have been used to sift and sep arate the various sizes of grain particles into flour and meal, so perhaps we can imagine that the Browerne was a granary, with the cellar, or storage area, above it.
Another important building on the Aldous farm was the "Back house or Dairy." From contents Stephen names in it we get the idea that probably the family prepared cheese and other dairy products for sale to fellow villagefolk. There was a "great Cheespresse," and also a "litle cheesepresse." There were "Cheese Boards," a "great Caldiron," a "great kettle," a "great Milketubb," a "second milk Tub," a "biggest keener [broad shallow tub]," a "litle keeler," a "biggest skillett," thirteen I'mylk bowleg", and "all the shelves, planks and close Boards in the said Backehowse or dairy" with everything "therto belonging."
In the will Stephen did not reveal the extent of his livestock or of his outdoor implements, but did mention "milche kene [milk cows]" and "sheepe," as well as a "Carte wth the harnis belonging," a "plough and plough irons therto belonging," a "plough Trayce," and "one paire of Cart Trayce."
He gives detailed descriptions of his lands. The messuage Bourneys, also called Peaslye, adjoined the common called Hushawe Greene, and on that common the property had grazing rights for "Sixe great Beasts [cattle,etc.] at whitsontide [or starting the seventh Sunday after Easter] & five at michallmas [season starting at the feast of St. Michael, the archangel, 29 September] accordinge to the quantitye customer" "Two closes of pasture, usuaflie occupied wth the said Messuage," were situated "betwene the lands of Thomas Al dous called the Home close, on the pte of the Easte And the lands of the same Thomas called Parke bridge meadowe on the pte of the west." Towards the north and east were lands of Sir Thomas Baker, knight, and of the said Thomas Aldous. On the south was "Cheapenhall mead owe."
Another messuage (house with outbuildings and yard), called "Cotwaynes or Babilons" had with it twenty acres of land. It had right of commonage "upon the said common called Hushawe Greene, for 4 great beasts, or other smale beasts accordinge to the quantitye custome."
Stephen also held "messuage lands, and meadowes, aswell Free hold as coppiehold, or customary lying and being in Wittingham hamb lett of Fresingfield."
With background, now, of house and properties, let us return to happenings in the Aldous family. As has been stated, Stephen and Margaret became the parents of five children, first two daughters and then three sons. When the youngest of the sons was but two years old Margaret passed away. We can suppose that she likely died at childbirth.
For three years Stephen lived as a widower, and then, in Octo ber of 1617, married another Margaret, a widow whose first husband had been a Harrison. In June of 1619, less that two years later, she died also, and again Stephen was a widower.
The date of Stephen's will, which he signed on each of its ten pages with "Steaphan Alldous," was 16 June 1622. It looks as though the original will was written before his eldest daughter, Elizabeth, married. Then, after she was wed, and received most of her share of the estate, parts of the will were interlined and new things writ ten. Among the things scratched out was the instruction that part of his assets be used "towards the Education and bringing upp of my Three Sonnes and two daughters." Added was, "I give unto Eliz: Aldous my daughtr ij [two] carpet cushions, one of mv great chaires in the hall & wth the overplus if any be upo condicon that Rich: Aldous hir husband delivr into the hands of my executor all my goods & houshold stuffe in his custoditie And also pay the rent agreed up on. "
Stephen's eldest son, "Stephen Aldous Jun," when he reached the age of twenty-four, was to receive Bourneys, except for the "Back house or dayrie belonging to the said messuage." Son William was to have, also at age twenty-four, Cotwaynes, and "my Backhowse, or day rie before excepted, upon condicon yt he shall wth the leave and li cence of the Lord of the mannor of whom the said prmisss bene and are holden, Remove and take awaye the said backhouse or dairy from the place where it now standeth, and set it, and place it upon the said Tenemt Cotwaynes." John, at age twenty-four, was to inherit the messuage lands and meadows in Wittingham hamlet. The furniture and accessories in the house, Browerne, and dairy, were divided up. Son Stephen was to have "the horse myll & furnitur upo condico that he suffer his brothers to grind there." At specified times John was to receive twenty pounds "of lawful Englishe money" and daughter Mary "Five pounds of lawfull English money." After the specific legacies Stephen requested that "all the rest of my pewter, brasse, and lynninge not by me given . . . The rest and surplus (if any be) of all my goods, chattells, moveables, houshold stuff, utensills, plate, jewells, readye money, debts . . . [and] funerall expencs . . . shalbe equally devided betweixt my said three sonnes and two daughters."
Stephen had faith in God, the preamble of his will being similar to others written in his time: "I Stephen Aldous of Fresingfield in the County of Suff yeoman, being both in good health and pfect Remembraunce, (thanks be unto Allmightie God) yet knoweing that there is nothing to man in this world more certaine than death, thend of all Fleshe, yet nothing more uncertain to the knowledge of man, then the tyme when god hath appointed it, Doe make, ordaine and declare this my last Will and Testamt. . . I comend my sould into the hands of Allmighty god, my Maker, hoping assuridlie, through the only meritts of Jesus Christe, my Saviour, to be made ptaker of life everlastinge,. . . my body to the Earth wherof it was made to be buried in such Christianlike and seamely sorte as shall by my welbeloved sonnes Stephen Aldous Jun and William Aldous . . . be thought fitt and Expedient."
These two sons were appointed executors. Stephen nominated "James Aldous my brothr in law Supravisor of this my last will & testament giving him xxs [twenty shillings] for his paymt hoping he will have a zealous care, and a love to procure peace and quietnes betwene my foresayd children."
Stephen Aldous lived for several years after his original will was written. He was buried 2 January 1627/8 in the Fressingfield churchyard.