Trewince Holiday Lodges, Portscatho, Truro, Cornwall TR2 5ET
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Category: Johns family

Will and probate of Stephen Johns of Trewince

It’s amazing what you can find when you dig in the records at the Royal Cornwall Museum (Courtney Library)

HO/2/82 12/7/1778 Will and probate of Stephen Johns of Trewince. Executor was Richard Johns. “In the name of God Amen. I Stephen Johns of Trewince within the parish of Gerrans in the County of Cornwall Esquire being at this time in a tolerable good state of bodily health and of a sound and disposing mind memory and understanding (Praise be to God for the same), but considering the great uncertainty of this life and how necessary it is, that a settled disposition should be made of all my temporal affairs Do make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner and form following (that is to say) First – I resign my Soul into the hands of God in his due Time hoping in and through the merits of our Saviour Jesus Christ for a full and perfect remission of all my sins and transgressions whatsoever, and my body to the earth to be decently interred at the discretion of my executors hereinafter named and as to my real and personal estate I give and dispose thereof as followeth: first debts legacies and funeral charges be paid and satisfied to wife Ann Johns 100 guineas to be paid six months after death and household furniture as she shall chuse and think necessary for her use. Also ratifies and confirms joint use or settlement made unto or in trust for her on and previous to my intermarriage and my will and meaning is that the same and the above legacies or bequests may be accepted and taken in full Barlieu and satisfaction of and for all Dower and Thirds which she might otherwise claim or be instituted unto out of any of my lands goods or chattels. Youngest son Stephen James Johns £1000 to be paid 6 months after attaining 21. Meantime to be educated in a proper manner out of the estate at discretion of executors and trustees; when attains a proper age to be put out and placed out as a clerk or an apprentice to some profession trade or business. Either clerk to attorney or merchant of good character and reputation in his profession or to a surgeon and apothecary or such other trade business or profession as shall be thought most proper and my said son should approve of. Also such sums of money as should be necessary in these professions etc. (Not to be taken out of £1000). Daughters Mary Ann and Elizabeth £800 1 year after 21 or marriage with consent of their mother and education wife Ann kinsman Richard Thomas of Tretheake cousin John Davis of Penryn and survivors and heirs messuages lands tenements hereditaments goods chattels and personal estate in trust for eldest son Richard Johns and heirs during his minority, after which he will be the sole executor. They are to be trustees and also Executors of the will. Also guardianship to tuition of all my children. If RJ died in minority unmarried or without issue of his body lawfully begotten then inheritance would go to trustees and put in trust for Stephen James Johns (younger son). Written 1778 – died 1793? Probate; letter of administration dated 1793 (16th December.)ie proved 1793 Stephen John (younger) married Ann James from Saltash daughter of merchant. Richard Johns esq. of Trewince or his heirs or assigns are entitled to a moity of all the tithable lands of the parish, except Rosteague, Trewarthas, Tregair, Tregairwoon.

Enter Stephen Johns

Lake’s “Parochial history of Cornwall” 1868 records that the present manor house at Trewince was erected in 1750 by the grandson or great grandson of a man named Richard Johns. Quoting from the ‘History of Cornwall vol 2 Gilbert 1838’ (based on manuscript histories of Hals and Tonkin), the editor wrote that: “An extremely good house was built here about the year 1750 by the grandson or greatgrandson of the gentleman who made the purchase of Trelegar from Mr Trevanian.”

Trewince was described as “A very pleasant house of 5 bays 2 storeyed with quoins and a door with an alternatingly rusticated surround (ie Gibbs) 1750. “

There is another reference to Mr Johns here; I don’t think that a ‘squire of Gerrans’, resident at Trewince, could possibly expect such entitlements in the 21st century:

“The Bishop of Exeter  endowed Gerrans church the one half as a rectory, the other as a vicarage. This division was effected in a very unusual manner, although in one not quite without example. Instead of apportioning the tithe of corn to the rector, and all other portions, as small tithes, to the vicar, the whole has here been divided into equal shares; so that Mr Johns of Trewince the lay impropriator is entitled to 1/20th of everything tithable and the incumbent to another twentieth.” This would have been Stephen Johns for we read of a lease of 1753  – ‘Stephen John, on the lives of Stephen 25 Elenor 18 son and daughter of Stephen’. This expression ‘on the lives’ refers to a form of lease which was used in the 17th & 18th centuries, which was based on the lives of three specified people, so the lease would last for the lifetimes of the father Stephen, who could have been about 45, his son Stephen, aged 25 and his daughter Elenor aged 18: for the natural life of the survivor or longest liver of them. The theory was that the property would remain in the family for a substantial amount of time, since every time one of the ‘lives’ died, the lease would be surrendered and raised again on another three lives.

Stephen died soon after this: in his will of 04/11/1761 the ‘remainder of lands’ were left to his son Stephen Johns. I saw a document relating to the administration of his will in 1766, and it was in such a fragile state that I was amazed that viewing was allowed! The will referred to daughters Abigail, Ann and Eleanor and son Stephen; witnesses were Henry Nicholls, Martin Davis, and John Pascoe. He left to his wife ‘meadows in Trewithian’; to daughter Abigail £500 as a marriage settlement to be paid within a year of his death; in the meantime interest on this of £4 per cent per annum; to daughter Ann and daughter Eleanor the same; the remainder of lands and tenements were left to his son Stephen.

It was interesting to read about leases at  . Apparently, leases sometimes had a wavy edge where two halves of an agreement had been cut apart and could be matched back together at a later date in order  to check that both halves of the agreement were the original documents.

There are accounts books relating to this period, referring to large parcels of land
1760 S Johns – Trewince (80 acres)
267 acres
Treluggan and so on….
They show amounts of wheat and  barley and the sale of lump sugar

The local Heritage Centre

Gerrans Parish Heritage & Information Centre
The Old Forge, Tregassick Road, Gerrans, Cornwall.

The Heritage and Information Centre opened in 2004. In addition to the permanent exhibition, specific exhibits will be set-up on an annual basis. 

The history of the parish is illustrated with displays depicting Farming through the Ages, the Fishing Industry, Education, Domesday Book entries, the Manors, World Wars, Coastguards, Churches, Chapels and much more. There are photographs, tithe maps, documents, parish records and other artefacts (including the Trewince Bottle fragment).

For those with an interest in family history there is a database containing the baptisms/christenings, marriages and deaths/burials of more than 11,500 parishioners. Indexes are also available for St Gerrans and St Anthony parishes covering, marriages, burials and a churchyard plan. The 1841 – 1901 census has also been indexed.

We found a fragment of a bottle

This bottle was an exciting discovery made some years ago during work on the Cottage. The words say: “S Johns Trewince 1768”. Stephen Johns was in residence at Trewince at that time and this sturdy bottle would have been personalised for him.

Did a bit of research on old wine bottles and found the bottle blow was for sale on – the similarities are remarkable. Fancy starting a collection? I have a certain interest in such matters due to the fact that my mother’s family owned a Mineral Water and Beer bottling business. I remember her telling me that she knew where dozens (hundred’s?) of old bottles, including old ‘pop’ bottles with a marble in the neck, had been buried. No – I’m not telling where….

By the way: this “Rare English 18th century sealed onion / mallet bottle John & Mary Spurrel 1734 ” sold last week on Ebay for £420!!!

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