John Harding of Sprakley 1582

John Harding, Yeoman Farmer of Frensham

Note: John Harding, Doctor of Divinity, belonged to the Harding family who owned Dockenfield Farm and House and who were from a wealthier stratum of society than the other Hardings of Frensham, although they may well have been related. Dr Harding was a Professor of Hebrew at Oxford and one of the clerics who produced the King James Bible.

Today ‘Sprakley’ is known as ‘Spreakley’

We have already met John Harding in the two previous posts as he was an overseer and a witness to the wills of both Bartholomew Harding (1557) and Anys Harding (1568). John was not identified as a relative of Bartholomew and Anys but surely there must have been some family connection as the population of Frensham in the 1500’s was small and Bartholomew and Anys trusted John to oversee the execution of his will.

John Harding was a ‘Somebody’ in Tudor Frensham

John Harding was an overseer and/or witness of Frensham wills: 1559 Will of Harry Lewse ~ 1569 Will of Christopher Bene ~ 1573 Will of Thomas Fulstone (John’s son-in-law) ~ 1570 Will of William Lassam ~ 1579 Will of Johan Fulstone (widow of Thomas above) and John Harding’s daughter who pre-deceased her father ~ 1581 Will of William Fulston ~ brother of Thomas Fulston above.

Transcript of John Harding’s 1582 Will

In the name of God Amen I John Harding the Elder of Frensham in the county of Surrey do make this my last will and testament

  • To be buried in Frensham Churchyard;
  • To the poor of Frensham: 20 shillings
  • To my wife Joan: a bedstead with all linens, 2 kine, 6 heifers, 2 ewes;
  • To William Goodall: a cow;
  • To Elizabeth Goodall: 20 shillings;
  • To William Goodall: 20 shillings;
  • To the rest of William Goodall’s children: 10 shillings;
  • To Richard Ede, William Weston, and Elizabeth Harding: 20 shillings each;
  • To John Baker’s children: 10 shillings;
  • To every one of my Godchildren: 12 pence a piece;
  • To each of my servants: 1 shilling;
  • To John Mellerche: 10 shillings;
  • To my nephew John Harding: a ewe;
  • To Richard Fulston: a ewe;
  • All the rest of “my goods unbequeathed to John Harding my son whom I do make my executor of this my last will and testament”;
  • I make and ordain Richard Harding of Dockenfield and Simon Harding my overseers and I will unto them for their pains 3s/4d a person;
  • To Alice Heather’s children: 10 shillings to be equally divided amongst them;
  • Witnessed by “Rychard Harding, Symond Harding, Oliver Fysh, William Edde, Olyver Vanner, Walter Seward”.
  • Notes
  1. John Harding’s Will is not easy to read and it was not written in a logical order nor was it signed, so probably a death-bed will;
  2. John Harding the Elder – it was customary to use this title when a person had an adult relative (usually a son) living;
  3. John had the following relatives living when he wrote his will: his wife Joan Harding, his son John Harding, and his grandson Richard Fulston (along with his brothers and their children);
  4. Once again, the lack of Frensham Parish Records hampers our interpretation of this will: It is likely that Elizabeth Goodall was his daughter, married to William Goodall, with several children, and he may have had another daughter who married John Baker, who had children, but was deceased. Elizabeth Harding – another relative worthy of receiving 20 shillings;
  5. Servants – this term often applied to both house servants and farm labourers;
  6. Richard Harding and Simon Harding were fellow Frensham Yeomen and John’s brothers, trusted to oversee the will. We will look at these two men in later posts;
  7. Probate granted to John Harding (the son) 8 November 1682.

Select Sources

  • London Metropolitan Archives and Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section, Clerkenwell, London, England; Reference Number: DW/PA/5/1582
  • Surrey Musters (available on Google Books)
  • A History of the County of Surrey: Comprising Every Object of Topographical, Geological, Or Historical Interest by Thomas Allen (available on Google Books)