Simon Harding of Frensham 1603

How do we know that Simon was the brother of William Harding of Wyke discussed in an earlier post? Simply because William Harding told us this in his 1593 Will ~ “my brother Symon Hardinge of “Frensham”! Notice how ‘H’ in Harding looks like ‘G’ and Frensham begins ‘ff’

Excerpt from 1593 Will of William Harding

We also know through references in Wills, that Simon was the brother of John and Richard Harding of Frensham ~ see previous posts

Simon Harding was a Yeoman Farmer of Frensham, just south of Farnham in West Surrey on the border with Hampshire. As a Yeoman, his farm would have been more than just a small-holding and was likely to have produced a surplus to allow the family to live comfortably and to employ wage-labourers for some of the farm work. Simon held his property by a Copyhold Lease from Farnham Manor which included Frensham.

What Has Been Discovered about Simon Harding?

1573: listed as a “Bylman of the Second Sorte” on the Frensham Muster Roll of adult, able-bodied men who could be mustered in the event of a foreign invasion or local uprising. As Simon was not very good with the bill-hook (a farm tool that was modified to be a weapon) he wasn’t selected to join the local militia band.

Elizabethan Bill Hook

1574: Simon was again listed on the Frensham Muster Roll but this time as “Surveyour” along with his brother John Harding ~ tasked with surveying the type and number of armour owned by Frensham residents. This was an easy task as only the Owner of Frensham Manor, Robert Beale owned armour. Beale family gave its name to present-day Bealeswood Lane in Dockenfield.
1600: Simon Harding (along with his brother John Harding of Spreakley) was named an overseer of the Will of Frensham resident, Richard Steele:

Simon Harding wrote his Will ~ 27 February 1602

“I Symon Hardinge of Farnham in the Countie of Surry Being sicke of bodie but of perfect remembrance thankes be given to god for it doe make this my last will & testament in manner & forme followinge”

  • To be buried in Frensham Churchyard (12 pence to the Church and 6s/8d to the poor)
  • To son Robert Harding, 3s/4d
  • To son William Harding, my table in the parlour with 2 joined forms, the bedstead in the parlour, and the press in the loft (‘joined’ meant furniture that was crafted by a Joiner rather than home made)
  • To son John Harding, one of the best bedsteads in the loft, one loom and and all my shop tools (bedsteads feature prominently in 16th Century Wills as they were valuable and indicated status)
  • To daughter Alice Harding, £20 of good and lawful money of England to be paid to her by my wife within three years after my decease (this would be for Alice’s dowry to ensure a good marriage)
  • To daughter Elizabeth Baker, a heifer of two years of age to be delivered promptly
  • To daughter Constance Coomes, a steer bullock to be delivered promptly * Note Oliver Coomes listed on Muster Roll above ~ perhaps the father-in-law of Constance
  • To daughter Kathryn Harding, a heifer of two years of age to be delivered promptly
  • To my kinswoman Elizabeth Baker, a ewe lamb
  • To my kinswoman Elizabeth Heather, a ewe lamb
  • 6 pence each to godchildren
  • All the rest of my goods and chattels, both moveable and unmovable unto Joan Harding my wife whom I make my sole executrix
  • Overseers: Cousin John Harding and son-in-law John Baker, and “for their paynes” 3s/4d
  • Witnessed by John Harding of Sprakley, John Baker, John Figge, and William Wilkins (who was the scribe)
  • Administration granted to Joan Harding, Widow, 10 June 1603

Simon Harding’s Will serves as a snapshot of his lifeFrensham in 1602 just prior to his death

  • His wife was called Joan who may have have been the mother of his children; he thought highly enough of Joan to leave his affairs in her hands after his death;
  • He had 3 surviving sons ~ as John got the best bedstead and the farm tools, he probably was the eldest and expected to take over the farm and William may already have set up his own household. Robert received money so he may have been the youngest and expected to make his own way in the world;
  • Of his 4 daughters, 2 were married ~ and he only seemed to have expectation that his daughter Alice would marry as he didn’t leave a dowry for Kathryn (just a cow);
  • To have married daughters, Simon was probably around 50 years old;
  • Mention of godchildren but not grandchildren;
  • Simon had sufficient disposable income to leave money to the Frensham Church and to the poor;
  • He made provision for two female relatives so he could spare a couple of sheep;
  • His farm was mixed livestock ~ both cattle and sheep, and the family may have done some wool weaving as Simon mentions a loom. The production of wool cloth in Surrey was declining by 1600 ~ the farmers found it more profitable to sell the raw wool to the weavers of Flanders. Note: Simon did not own his farm; he leased it from Robert Beale of Frensham Manor but it was custom that these leases passed to the next generation;
  • He could not write ~ no signature and he used a scribe;
  • Simon Harding’s daughter Kathryn did marry ~ by 1605 she was Kathryn Trigge, the wife of John Trigge who witnessed Simon’s will;
  • But … Simon’s daughter Alice did not need a dowry as she died 2 years later:

In the name of god amen, I Alice Hardinge of Frensham in the Countye of Surrey the daughter of Symon Hardinge 

1605 Will of Alice Harding of Frensham

People who Witnessed Simon Harding’s Will

John Harding of Sprakley was Simon’s cousin and will be discussed in another post, John Baker was the son-in-law, John Trigge was probably the son of Thomas Trygge listed on Muster Roll above, and William Wilkins was the ‘Scriptor’ ~ the scribe.

Selected Sources

  • 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: 1603b/26
  • Clergy of the Church of England Database
  • Surrey History Centre Archives
  • Surrey Record Society, Volume II: Surrey Musters accessed on Google Books
  • Wikipedia: Surrey Trained Bands