The Family of William Woodland

Family Chart

William was baptised 5 February 1775 at Lyminge, Kent, a son of Stephen Woodland and Elizabeth formerly Young.

It was known from the PCC papers, Banks v. Woodland and others, 1840, that William had a sister Elizabeth, of the whole blood, the widow of Mark Miller, living at Rhodes Minnis, Lyminge, Kent. The 1851 census of Rhodes Minnis gave her place of birth, Lyminge, Kent and its register contained her baptism and also that of William.

William had a child by Constant Seymor (sic):

  1. Mary, born 16 April 1803 and baptised 29 May 1803 at St George Hanover Square, London.

William Woodland married Jane Freeman (born Sunbury Middx.) and there were no children of the marriage (Neither William nor Jane mention any in their wills).

William Woodland died 9 August 1840. He was buried in the Old Churchyard at Esher, 14 August 1840, aged 66. The inscription on his headstone was difficult to read (1986): 'Here lies the body of Mr. William Woodland late of this parish who died .... aged .... Also of Mrs. Jane Woodland wife of the above who died April 15th 1863 aged 80 years'. The footstone was inscribed 'WW 1840 JW 1863'. The date of Jane's death in the probate index is 3 April 1863 and that the burial register of Esher has the burial of Jane Freeman as 8 April 1863.

William's will was dated 30 July 1840 and witnessed by James Dodsley Tawney, solicitor, 35 King Street, Cheapside and John Tilly of Esher. William was described in it as of Esher, esquire. He appointed his friends, William Banks [his son-in-law] of Kings Mews, Grays Inn Lane, stable keeper, and William Stanford [his sister-in-law, Mary's husband] of Esher, smith to be his executors and trustees, and bequeathed them each 10 for mourning. To his wife, Jane Woodland, he gave his freehold house in Esher where he was then living. The contents were to be sold after Jane's death and the proceeds were to sink into his residuary personal estate. He also left her for life an annuity of 100 to be paid from the rents of his freehold properties 3, 4 and 5 Pollen Street, St George Hanover Square. He left his freehold house at Rhodes Minnis, Lyminge where his sister Elizabeth then lived, to his sister Elizabeth Miller, the wife of Mark Miller. He left his two freehold properties, 11 and 12 Pollen Street, St George Hanover Square, to William Banks, subject to an annuity of 25 to be paid to Elizabeth Miller, and a sum of 300 to be paid to William Stanford for his debts funeral and testamentary expenses if his residual personal estate was insufficient. He gave 3, 4 and 5 Pollen Street to his trustees to pay the rents to Mary Woodland Banks during her lifetime and gave her the power of appointment for their disposal after her death. He left his leasehold properties in Robert Street, Gravesend to his sister Lydia Humphreys, the wife of Thomas Humphreys. The residue was left equally between his wife, Mary Woodland Banks and his sisters Elizabeth Miller and Lydia Humphreys after the payment of his debts funeral and testamentary expenses. Although the will was signed 'William Woodland' it had in fact been signed by proxy because William was too weak to sign it for himself. The proving of the will therefore had to be conducted rather more formally than was normally required. Formal proceedings were therefore instigated by William Banks, one of the executors, and the documents associated with these have been preserved amongst the records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury as "Banks v Woodland and others". The Prerogative Court of Canterbury was involved because William owned property in at least two dioceses. The documents consisted of the Decree to see the proceedings with endorsements, the Allegation and the evidence presented.

The Decree to see the proceedings was dated 19 September 1840. It cited Jane Woodland, his widow, Elizabeth Miller the wife of Mark Miller and natural sister of the whole blood, Thomas Southwell, Samuel Southwell, Richard Southwell, Ann Springett wife of John Springett and Lydia Humphreys the wife of Thomas Humphreys and natural brothers and sisters of the half blood as the only persons entitled to a share of his estate had he died intestate. The decree summoned them or their representatives to be present in the Common Hall of Doctors Commons in the parish of St Benedict, near St Pauls Wharf, London at 10.00 am on Tuesday 6 October and thereafter whenever the Court sat whilst it came to judgement concerning the validity of the will made by William Woodland.

This decree (or a duplicate) was then taken and shown to each of the persons cited, and a copy was left with each of them. These events were then recorded as endorsements on the decree or its duplicate, as follows:

  1. Lydia Humphreys at 15 Bolton Street, Piccadilly, on 21 September 1840.
  2. John Springett at The Cadagan Arms, Chelsea, on 21 September 1840.
  3. Elizabeth Miller (then widow) at Rhodes Minnis, Lyminge, on 24 September 1840
  4. Jane Woodland at her residence at Esher, on 30 September 1840.
  5. Thomas Southwell at Robertsbridge, Sussex, on 30 September 1840
  6. Samuel Southwell at Robertsbridge, Sussex, on 30 September 1840
  7. Richard Southwell at Battle, Sussex, on 30 September 1840
  8. Ann Springett at her residence of 9 Caroline Buildings, Kings Road, Chelsea, on 2 October 1840.
  9. Thomas Humphreys at his residence of 99 Church Lane, Chelsea, on 2 October 1840.

The Allegation recorded the meeting of the Court on Friday 6 November 1840 when it was alleged first that William Woodland was in full possession of his mental capacities when he made his will. The will was drawn up and read over to him. He indicated that he understood what had been read to him and approved the will. He gave instructions that William Henry Neville should sign the will on behalf of William Woodland. The will was then witnessed by two witnesses, all parties being present at the same time. Secondly it was alleged that the account of the events is correct.

Evidence was given to the Court by James Dodsley Tawney, William Henry Neville and John Tilly.

The Court found that the will was valid and it was proved 17 December 1840 "by sentence". Administration was granted to William Banks. William Woodland's personal estate was under 800.

In the 1851 census of Esher, Jane was a widow, aged 70, an annuitant and born at Sunbury, Middx. With her was her widowed sister Mary Stanford, aged 80 born Holbourne, Middx, and her single brother, William Freeman, aged 73, a gardener and born at Sunbury. There was also an unmarried servant.

Jane Woodland died 3 April 1863 at Esher and was buried with William Woodland at Esher, 8 April 1863 aged 80.

Probate of Jane's will was given 4 May 1863 to her executors, William Larard, shoe salesman, of 28 Aylesbury Street, St James, Clerkenwell, Jane Clemons (niece, widow) of Esher and William Tilly Hine of Esher, boot and shoe maker. Her effects were valued at under 450.

Jane's will was dated 20 May 1859. She left her freehold house in Claremont Road, Esher and everything else to her executors upon trust, to be sold at her death. The residue to be invested and the dividends to be paid to her brother, William Freeman, then living with her. She left 19 guineas to her kind friend William Larard and John Joseph Smith, dairyman, of Esher. After the death of her brother the principal was to be divided equally amongst her nephews and nieces:

  1. James Freeman, letter carrier at the central Post Office, Brighton
  2. Jane Clements, widow, dressmaker, of Twickenham
  3. Mary Lee, wife of William Lee, of Walton-on-Thames
  4. Thomas Bennet, fishmonger, of Sunbury, Berks
  5. George Humphreys, Tailor of Heddon Street, Regent Street, Westminster [Is he a relative of Thomas Humphreys, the husband of William's half-sister, Lydia?]

The executors were William Larard, John Joseph Smith and Jane Clements. The witnesses were Joseph Smith, accountant, of Esher and William Tilly Hine, of Esher.

The codicil was dated 7 May 1862 and replaced executor John Joseph Smith, then deceased with William Tilly Hine, who also received the legacy of 19 guineas. The witnesses were Joseph Smith, accountant, of Catos Hill Esher and John Woods, registrar, of Esher.

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