I John Stokes of Studham In the county of Bedford, being of sound mind, memory and understanding do make my last will and testament. To Almighty God my Maker and Creator I commend my Soule hoping through Jesus Christ to Inherit everlasting life. My body I commend to the earth to be decently buried when I lay it down.
I praise my Maker for the 78 years of good health and life with which He has blest me as I place myself in the hands of Him who knows all our intents while I wait the judgment of Jesus Christ.
If I have regrets it is that my Hannah did not live to see our baby daughter grow to beautiful womanhood. She was guided by the wisdom of her stepmother Susannah who loved her as her own for which I praise God.
To my daughter Emma, wife of William Webb, I leave the jeweled combs used by her mother Hannah to dress her beautiful brown hair. Also a pair of silver buckles given to Hannah’s great-great grandfather John Underwood, tailor, by his Majesty, King George the Second, for a coat made by John to replace one torn on a fox hunt near Dunstable. For Susannah a silver jeweled brooch. Also I leave her the sum of £75 for her use.
As her mother before her, Emma is slender, fair of face with dark hair and as delicate as the wild flowers that bloom in Spring in the meadows at the foot of the Chilterns. A tender, sensitive, loving wife, mother and daughter. She sings like a bird as she plays the dulcimer. Loves beauty and making beautiful things. Loves children and shows great patience when teaching them to plait straw. Her own straw plaiting is of fine quality and in much demand for making straw hats. Emma has always been very spiritual and knew at first hearing the truth in the Latter Day Church in America.
To William Webb, my son-in-law, I leave my garden tools used over these many years. He has the finest garden in all of Studham and Dunstable. There is a fine gold chain given my great grandfather for care of the King’s deer. This I leave him and the sum of £75 for his use. I am pleased to have William in my family. He is gentle, shows much love for Emma and his children and yet demands respect and work well done. He is firm and hard working. When once sure he holds to his beliefs and his word is his law. He plays the flute when Emma sings and it pleasures me. Imitates bird calls and they answer him. The family sits at dusk to sing and tell tales. They are close. He accepted the Mormon belief when Emma did. He wouldn’t let the elders tell him what to do in his own home and hold meetings there without asking him first. He has been a good, kind, considerate son to me.
William and Emma taught their children to be honest, responsible, dependable and hard working, loving, caring, respectful, religious. They are all quick to learn but no parish school to teach them to read and write. They taught themselves with a little help from William. He went to parish school in Dry Drayton. He learned to read the Bible and to write some.
John Stokes Webb, my namesake, was a quiet lad but good company. It pleasured me to see his joy as he found new things in nature. He loves growing things and animals. He was a most affectionate and hard working lad. He was so proud when he earned his first money at age six watching after sheep. He brought home 3 shillings after a week’s watch. Always kind to his mother. Did a mission for the Church. Married Hannah Grace and they emigrated to America to be in Zion. It is way out west in Indian country called Utah Territory. I gave him my gold ring and £25 as he said goodbye. Emma has had word of him from Elders. He worked for President BrighamYoung and then moved to a place called Lehi near high mountains and a lake. I have great grandchildren there I will never see in this life. 0, how I miss him.
My dear, fun loving Ann is also in America. She went before John. I gave her a pewter pitcher and bowl used by her great-great grandmother Stokes and £25. Ann is good with children and has a special fondness for her brother Willie. She could always find something good to do for loved ones and give them pleasure. She waited for dusk to come so they could sing and tell stories. She was so good at making up stories. She could draw pictures of flowers and birds and deer. They looked real. She could run like a deer and move with the grace of a queen. Was always spiritual like her mother and joined the Church at the time Emma joined. She was humming and singing all the time. I miss her smiling, sweet face and manner and her serious talks. She too has children I will never see. I have missed her sorely this past six year. I do love her.
To my grandson, George, I leave my sword and scabbard used by me in parade when His Majesty came to Dunstable on Royal fox hunt. Also £25 for his use. George has always worked hard. He loves to sing and sings all the time. He likes attention and follows the missionaries to meetings and sings for them. Wants to do a mission. He is learning to mill. A kind, affectionate, responsible lad. It pleasures him to help people. I am proud of him.
And to William the younger I leave the old family Bible with names for more than 100 years. He is responsible and dependable and will look after it. I also leave him £25. Willie works hard and does it well. Never out of work. Herded ducks on a pond when he was a wee lad. Like his father his word is his law. Is loving, caring, considerate, sensible. Studies carefully an issue before he makes up his mind. Very spiritual. The Latter Day Church is most important to him. The elders want people to emigrate. If Willie goes I shall be most unhappy and lonely. He is so smart.
Edwin Thomas is not as strong as the other boys. He is more like his mother. He is dependable and responsible. Good help at home. I leave Edwin my set of brushes with hand carved oak handles and is for his use.
I will mention Mark who died at six years. He was never strong. His heart was not strong. Smart for his years. His father mourned long for him. William has a soft heart but covers it with a sometimes stern face.
I am proud of William, Emma and their family. All hard workers, church going, dependable and responsible. My heart is full with love for them. 0, if Hannah could know them.
My household goods I leave to my son William Stokes to be disposed of by him as I shall direct in a will for my children by Susannah.
My daughter Emma to be executrix of this last will and testament to which I set my hand and seal on this fourteenth day of April in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty.
Signed John Stokes
Signed and sealed in our presence and at his request
Signed William Grace John Harrison
this fourteenth day of April in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty.
Will proved by Emma Webb executrix the tenth day of August In the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two.