The Last Will and Testament of Dick Whittington

Since researching my family history, I have stumbled across lots of connections to Lord Mayors of London, the most famous of these connections is Dick Whittington – Richard Whittington (1354 – 1423), 4x Lord Mayor of London.

Richard is my 2nd cousin, 22x removed (so he lived 22 generations ago), his wife Alice fitz Warin is my 2nd cousin, 20x removed). The couple had no children.

Below is a pedigree showcasing my family connection to Dick Whittington.

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My connection to Dick Whittington

Currently I’m undergoing an in-depth study of all the wills that are connected to my family history, these documents I am recording / transcribing (if needed) and sourcing to my tree and WordPress, so other researchers can make use of this information, and at the same time I’m learning a lot more about my family history and even discovering family members I previously hadn’t recorded.

I don’t currently have a copy of Richard Whittington’s will, and there doesn’t seem to have been a copy of the transcription published.

But below are the details of this document.

Richard Whittington made his will in 1421 and it was proved after his death in March 1423. Before the establishment of a new Court of Probate based in London in 1858, a complicated network of more than 200 church courts across the country were responsible for proving wills. During the first half of the 15th century the Archbishop of Canterbury also had the unique authority to prove wills of his own accord.  As a result the Archbishop’s registers for this period contain a number of significant wills including those of royalty such as Edward III and Edward, Prince of Wales (more commonly known as the Black Prince) as well as notable citizens such as Whittington.

Wills can be illuminating historical sources, providing valuable insight into the lives of individuals and the time in which they lived. Concern for the welfare of the soul was paramount during the medieval period and charitable giving was a common feature in testaments of the time. Richard Whittington’s will is no exception citing some thirty separate bequests, most of which obliged the recipient to offer up prayers for Whittington and his wife.

The will of Richard Whittington can be viewed at Lambeth Palace Library on microfilm (ms film705, Register of Archbishop Chichele, folio 354).

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Lambeth Palace Library Catalogue Reference.

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