Bartholomew Harding of Frensham 1557

Husbandman of Westend, Frensham, Surrey

The Will of Bartholomew Harding ~ Husbandman ~ 1557

  • To be buried in the Churchyard of Frensham
  • To the Mother Church: 2d; to the poor men’s boys: 4d
  • To son Bartholomew Harding: 1 wether sheep
  • To daughter Christiane: 1 ewe sheep
  • To son Richard Harding: 2 ewes, 2 lambs, a piece of land called Brydges, and £6/13s/4d
  • To son Thomas Harding: 1 good wether tegg
  • To daughter Joan: 1 calf, 2 ewes, 2 lambs, 1 wether tegg, and 1 ewe tegg
  • To son John Harding: 1 heifer, 1 ewe, 1 lamb, 1 wether tegg, and 2 ewe teggs
  • Rest of goods: to wife Annis, who is also to be the executrix
  • Overseers: John Harding of Sprakely and William Ede of Westend – each to be paid 2 of the best wether teggs
  • Witnesses: John HardingWilliam EdeWilliam HardingChristopher Beane and others


  • Husbandman: was a tenant farmer, or, occasionally, a small landowner. The social status of a husbandman was below that of a yeoman. A husbandman usually held his land by copyhold or leasehold tenure and may be regarded as the ‘average farmer in his locality’. The meaning of “husband” in this term is “master of house” rather than “married man”.
  • Wether: a male sheep;
  • Tegg: a 2 year old sheep;
  • Mother Church: this was probably Winchester Cathedral as the main church of Winchester Diocese to which Frensham belonged.


  1. Bartholomew Harding was clearly a sheep farmer as his sheep flock was his primary legacy; leaving his children a sheep or two was a gesture;
  2. Bartholomew named his wife as primary beneficiary and executrix which suggests that his children were not adults and Bartholomew died fairly young; Annis would be expected to run the farm and support the family.
  3. Wills often list children in birth-order which would make Bartholomew the eldest and so expected to inherit the Harding farm at Westend when he came of age – he was only given 2 sheep in the Will;
  4. Richard – perhaps the 2nd son – appeared to gain more as he was left a piece of land and money, but his father knew that Richard would need to set himself up on his own farm; Bartholomew’s 2 youngest sons would have to fend for themselves;
  5. Bartholmew’s daughters were left rather disparate legacies ~ Christiane got a sheep whereas Joan was given a collection of stock;
  6. Overseers: John Harding of Sprakley (Spreakly today) was probably Bartholmew’s cousin and we will have future posts on the Hardings of Sprakley; William Ede must have been a local somebody as he features in a number of Frensham Wills.

Post Script to Will: The debts that are owing unto Bartholomew Hardinge by his own confessions 1) Master Beydone 40s, the which 40s been guaranteed to be paid me before 2 August as witnessed by William Harding, John Harding, and others 2) Richard Brodbridge of Wrecclesham 3s/4d. Note: ‘debts’ spelled ‘dettys”.

The inventory of all the goods and chattels of Bartholomew Harding of Frensham in the county of Surrey, husbandman, late deceased. Taken and appraised 28 April 1557 by Thomas Trigge and Simon Harding.

Here is a sample of the inventory

  • In the chamber, his apparel, a bed, and that belonging to him, 2 other beds, 3 coverlets, sheets: £3/6s/8d
  • 1 great chest, 3 coffers: 10s
  • In the hall, 1 table, 1 form and chair, 1 cupboard: 6s
  • In the kitchen, kettles, pans etc: 25s/7d
  • 1 stall of bees: 8s
  • 2 yearling bullocks: 10s
  • 8 wethers: 30s/4d
  • 12 teggs: 18s
  • In the barn – 3 bushells of oats: 3s/4d
  • In the fields growing – 3 acres of wheat and rye: 20s
  • 8 acres of oats: 26s/8d
  • A little cart and harness: 6s
  • 6 hens and a cock: 2s
  • Total: £25/15s/8d

Source: Hampshire Archives and Local Studies; Winchester, England; Probate Records: Wills, Inventories and Administrations Proved in the Church Courts of Winchester Diocese, 14th Century to 1858; Reference Number: 1547u/10