Old Wills

1658 Will of John Lloyd – St. Mary’s County, Maryland

Sometimes I will check out the first page in the first will book of a county.  I like to see who was first who died leaving a will.  I’m sure there are many, especially in the earlier days, who didn’t leave a will.  Perhaps they had nothing to give.  Today in point I was in St. Mary’s County, Maryland.  Will Book 1658-1732, page 1, the will of John Lloyd.  John died shortly after writing his will June 26, 1658, since it was probated July 27, 1658.  He knew he was not long for the world.

Let’s admit, some wills are horribly boring – they do give us information for our ancestors, and we are thankful for them.  This will is quite different, a very interesting read, and one that caused much research in areas other than genealogy.

John Lloyd mentioned first his wife, Margaret Mollings Lloyd.  Everything John owns was left to his wife, other than a few personal items left to friends. 

To Mr. Thomas Ear, John left his ‘black suits and cloak and a remnant of the same cloth my suit is made of.’  It may sound strange to us to leave a remnant of cloth, but in 1658 cloth was most likely hard to come by and would be of use in mending any tears in the black suits.  I could find nothing in my Maryland books about Thomas Ear.

Captain John Price was given his rapier and belt.  John Price’s will was written 39 years later and gives his age as 64 in 1697, making him born in 1633.  He was a young man of 25 when given the rapier and belt, perhaps at the beginning of his career.  In the patent records that list those transported into the Province of Maryland in 1634, a John Price is listed.  This could not be Captain John Price, but could very well be his father. 

Mr. Robert Francis was indebted to John Lloyd for one hundred and fifty pounds of tobacco.  Lloyd forgave the debt and also gave him an old coat and his pair of Irish stockings.  Were these stocking made of wool or silk?

How would you feel about wearing a deceased person’s clothing?  In the early years of America there was the ‘waste not want not’ proverbial saying.  But perhaps since this will was written before the 1772 first recorded mention, it may have been said ‘willful waste makes woeful want’ from the year 1576.

The next part of the will is a first for me.  ‘To such persons as shall carry my corpse to church, each of them a black mourning ribbon and a pair of gloves.’  This also begs the question are they actually carrying the dead body?  John Lloyd uses the word corpse, he doesn’t say coffin.  From a Smithsonian report on Chapel Burials at St. Mary’s City, it says there were both shroud and coffin burials in the cemetery.  ‘Preparations for burial included removing the clothing, washing the body, and wrapping it in a shroud or winding-sheet, which was sewn, pinned, or tied in place.’  Was this the reason for giving gloves to those who carried the ‘corpse?’  In the earlier graves fewer than half were buried in coffins.  Was John Lloyd one of these few?

From the Marker at St. Mary’s Chapel – Maryland’s First Brick Church

The St. Mary’s Chapel, built about 1667, was Maryland’s first major brick building.  The structure was built in the form of a cross, 55 feet long and 57 feet wide at the arms of the cross.  In frontier Maryland, where most settlers lived in humble wood cottages, this was a remarkable building.  All that remains of the chapel is its massive brick foundation, measuring three feet wide and five feet deep.

There are hundreds of unmarked graves in and around the chapel.  This site was a cemetery for St. Mary City from the earliest years of settlement.  Many of Maryland’s founders lie here in long-forgotten graves.  In 1990, three lead coffins were discovered buried in the left arm or transept of the cross-shaped building.  These are the first 17th-century lead coffins found by archaeologists in North America.

A reconstruction of the chapel can be seen today.

Maryland was the first colony to adhere to freedom of religion.  Although settled by Catholics, people of every religion were invited to settle there.  However, in 1695, due to a Protestant Revolution, the seat of government was moved from St. Mary’s City to Annapolis.  St. Mary’s City was abandoned by 1750 and returned to farmland.  In 1990 archeologists discovered three lead coffins in the remains of St. Mary’s Chapel. Their team consisted of a variety of individuals.  During their work they discovered Philip Calvert, youngest son of George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore, and Philip’s wife, Anne Wolseley Calvert were the two adults buried in the lead coffins.  The third was an unknown child.

Click here to see a video of the excavation of the lead coffins.  Scroll down to the bottom of the page if it does not go there automatically – Video Transcript – St. Mary’s city Living and Dying in America.


Back to the will.  In case his wife died intestate, John Lloyd ‘gives all my estate, both real and personal, lands, debts, goods and chattles, whatsoever in this province of Maryland, to the English College of priests at Doway in Flanders.’  How did John Lloyd know about this college?  He had lived in Maryland for some time.  From Wickipedia I learned ‘the English College (College des Grands Anglais), was a Catholic seminary in Douai, France (also previously spelled Douay, and in English Doway), associated with the University of Douai.  It was established in 1568, and was suppressed in 1793.  It is known for a Bible translation referred to as the Douay-Rheims Bible.  Of over 300 priests from Douai sent on the English missions, about one-third were executed.  The dissolution of the college at the time of the French Revolution, led to the founding of Crook Hall near Lanchester in County Durham (which became St. Cuthbert’s College), and St. Edmund’s College, Ware.  As Flanders was a part of France in 1658, it is why French was spoken there at the time, and now Douai is a part of France, very close to the Belgian border.

And the last bequest John Lloyd made was to his sister-in-law, Margery Mollings, in case his wife predeceased him.  He forgave the debt of servitude of Margery.  Evidently, he must have brought her to the colony when he and his wife came.  Generally, if another person paid the way for a passenger who did not have the money to pay passage, the passenger was indebted to the person who paid for a number of years, generally 3 to 7.  It does seem surprising that John Lloyd would hold his sister-in-law to payment.  He also gave her a pied cow and calf, some land (the acreage he received for bringing her over?) and bed linens.  It is possible Margery came over at a later date than John and his wife.

We get to the last lines of the will where he names Philip Calvert and Thomas Ear to be entrusted with selling his land and possessions to send to the English Colony if his wife died before him.  Philip Calvert was a wealthy landowner and councilor of the province.  Our John Lloyd evidently knew Calvert well enough to ask him to take on this task of selling his goods to send to the English Colony. 

Of the three witnesses of John Lloyd’s will, George Briton, William Harper and William Bretton, I found information only on the latter.  William Bretton immigrated to Maryland in 1637 with his wife Mary, their child, William, aged 4, and three servants.  In 1640, 750 acres was surveyed for William, and named Manor of Little Britain.  William and wife Temperance donated one and a half acres of land for St. Mary’s Chapel and a cemetery on November 10, 1661.  This land was near the head of St. William’s Creek.

One more thing before you get to the actual will.  Richard Lloyd had 100 acres of land surveyed November 18, 1667, in St. Mary’s County.  A relative of our John? Richard Lloyd named this land Penamser.  There is a Penamser Road in Gwynedd, Wales.  Could the Lloyd’s have a connection to Wales?  I know this is a long shot, but just an interesting thought.  I just googled the surname Lloyd – a Welsh surname originating with the Welsh adjective llwyd, most often understood as meaning ‘grey’ but with other meanings as well.  It could also be described as both Old Welsh and Medieval English, derived from a 7th century word.  That goes back very far.  I am a great fan of the British History Podcast by Jamie Jeffers.  I listen to podcast episodes while I needlepoint – sometimes several hours a day.  At this point in time there are 398 episodes, and we are just to 1067, just after the Battle of Hastings when William, Duke of Normandy, invaded and took England as his own.  I mention this because 20 episodes or so back, there was much talk about Wales and England, the problems between the two, and how they came together at certain points.  Our history is so intertwined, but especially that of the British Isles.  So you can see that while Lloyd was first a Welsh name, it eventually became a surname of Britain and Scotland. 

I hope I haven’t bored you too much.  Now the will of John Lloyd.

Will of John Lloyd

St. Mary’s County Will Book 1658-1732, Page 1

I, John Lloyd, of St. Mary’s in the province of Maryland, Gentleman, being weak in body, but in perfect memory to hereby make and ordain my last will and testament in manner and form following (viz.).  My soul I bequeath to almighty God, my God, and Savior Jesus Christ, trusting and hoping to be saved through his merits and passion.  My body to be decently buried in the ordinary place in St. Mary’s Chapel yard.  As to my worldly estate which almighty God hath put me as the ward over in this world, I do dispose of in manner and form following (viz.). 

I do give all my lands, debts, goods and chattles, except such as I shall reserve to other uses hereafter within this province of Maryland, unto my dear and well loved wife, Margaret Lloyd whom I do make my sole Executrix.

I do give unto Mr. Thomas Ear my black suits and cloak and a remnant of the same cloth my suit is made of.

I do give to Captain John Price my rapier and belt.

I do give to Mr. Richard William two barrels of corn and a pair of new winter shoes.

I do give to Mr. Robert Francis (?) a bill by which he stands indebted to me in the sum of one hundred and fifty pounds of tobacco, or thereabouts and my own old coat lined with boyse and my Irish stockings.

To such persons as shall carry my corpse to church, each of them a black mourning ribbon and a pair of gloves. 

But in case my said Executrix should die intestate I do bequeath all my estate, both real and personal, lands, debts, goods and chattles, whatsoever in this province of Maryland, to the English College of priests at Doway in Flanders, and in case of such decease of my said Executrix intestate as aforesaid, I do constitute Philip Calvert, Esq. and Thomas Ear, Gentleman, ? in trust for the sale and disposal of all my said estate within this province of Maryland as aforesaid.  It and every part of it to sell and dispose of to the best advantage for the sole use and behoof of the said College of Priests at Doway in Flanders, to the intent they pray for our souls. 

And in case of decease of my said Executrix intestate as aforesaid, I do give and remit unto my sister-in-law, Margery Molins, all the time of servitude that then shall remain due by the custom of the country, one pied cow and her calf, all my rights to land by virtue of plantation, a bed shoe (?) lyeth on with the bolster, rugs, blanket and a pair of sheets.

In testimony that this is my last will I do hereby set my hand and seal this six and twentieth day of June, Anno Domino 1658, revoking all and any other will or testament by me formerly made – for farther clearing of my intent and meaning in the in the constitution of Philip Calvert, Esq., and Mr. Thomas Ears judges in trust so as in that clause of use will relation thereto being had doth appear:   I do declare that in case Mr. Thomas Ear should die or refuse to join with the said Philip Calvert in such sole and disposal to the use and interest in as said clause limited, that thou it shall be lawful for the said Philip Calvert alone to sell and dispose of my said estate to the forsaid uses.

John Lloyd

Signed and sealed in the presence of (that blot in the seventh line being made before) George Briton, William Harper, William Bretton

Entered in records Provincials 27 July 1658 by me, Wilbur B.

2 replies »

  1. Thank you so much for posting this. It is sooo interesting. I love learning about things from this time period. Thank you again. Betsy Carter

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