East Witton people

Wills are a rich source of information about ordinary people, they give a very personal insight into the everyday lives of our ancestors. Here are a few snippets from wills of East Witton folk which tell us about their clothes, their occupations and their livestock.

Samuel Ascough lived in Colsterdale, part of the parish of East Witton, and was a collier. His will was written in  1783 and he made provision for his wife in the following terms
And I do order to be given £5 of lawful money to the person that takes my wife to board on or at the time they take her. And if they do not take proper care of her so that she has to be removed the £5 to be returned to them that takes her next and the person that has her when she dies to enjoy it forever ......
Other beneficiaries were his nephew George Ascough, who had to supply his wife with goods, utensils and furniture, his brother Richard Ascough, his nephew Peter Towler, servant Jane Towler, and Richard Walker and Margaret Dowson.

William Abbot lived at Birks in Colsterdale and left a will dated 28 August 1731. Imagine the purple heather on the moor between Colsterdale and East Witton, a source of fragrant honey. William Abbot had three beehives and bequeathed two to his wife and one to his daughter Margaret.

John Haw of Kilgram died in  1726, a farmer of substance, his inventory  included five milk cows, four oxen, ewes, sheeres and a heifer, seven stirks, five calves, thirteen old sheep, one mare and foal, two colts and a filly, a sow and eight piggs and another swine, a stone colt and five lambs.

There were a variety of different occupations in East Witton. Edward Topham of East Witton was a tanner, and his will of 1666 mentioned his tanning pits and leather as well as a farm.
Ralph Tilsley was a glover, and although his inventory of 1707 does not mention his work tools or materials, it indicates the dual occupation that most craft workers carried out as he had an old cow and a calf, a milk pail, six milk bowls, as well as some pewter, two candlesticks, a chamber pot and a tankard. 


Henry Hebdon of Angram Cote was a cloth weaver and his will of 1699 made provision for his son Henry  and left an inventory valued at over £100.


Christopher Kinlosides of East Witton was a serge weaver and had no children of his own when he wrote his will in 1725 but remembered uncles and an aunt and cousins. His worldly goods amounted to  £2 10s in his purse and apparrel, one old bedstead and bedding, one old pannell chest, one chair and buffet stool, one iron pot and frying pan and one little old kettle.


The Moore family of East Witton were braziers, several generations passing their tools from one to another. John Moore of East Witton, brazier, in 1736 left

to my grandson George Moore all my working tools belonging to my trade, to my two sons George Moore and John Moore all my stock of goods belonging to my trade, brass, copper or other metals


In 1535 John Fydler of East Witton bequeathed his buckskin dublett and his best jacket.
James Ambler who died in 1661 did not bequeath individual items of clothing, but his inventory gives a picture of his house.
In the forehouse 1 cupboard, 3 little tables, 3 chairs, 2 buffett stools,
In the foreparlour 1 cupboard, 1 table, 1 chair and other implements
In the backparlour, 1 bedstead and bedding thereon, 2 pannell chests, 1 coffer and other implements, 5 linen sheets and 7 harden sheets
In the High Parlour, 1 bedstead and bedding and other implements
In the milk house, 1 chirne, 1 barrell, 1 tubbe, 1 spinning wheel and other wooden vessels
He also had woollen and harden yarn, and, very unusual, books.

Barbara Skaife, spinster of East Witton, left a will in 1715 leaving forty shillings to be put towards apprenticing a poor boy of East Witton, and twenty shillings to be used towards clothes for the poor.
Elizabeth Barnett left a will in 1765 leaving £20, the interest of which was to be put towards teaching poor children, with One Guinea to be paid as a Dole to the poor of the parish.