2020-05-24 18:18:52 UTC
My problem is that I have a 1613 will in which William the testator describes John as his 'brother-in-law'. I can't quite prove how that relationship is defined, but I am assuming at the moment that William married John's sister, rather than John marrying William's, on the basis that John was appointed a trustee in the will for William's children as minors (first mentioned name, as well as being a bondsman in the probate). I am assuming that a blood relative was far more likely to be the senior trustee for the children than an uncle by marriage.
That's fine to me. But then the 1614 probate inventory (he was buried on 27th December, and the inventory was taken on the 3rd January), lists two debts owed by William to John - one for £12 and one for 33s 4d.
To me, that nice round figure looks like something from a marriage contract. Normally I would assume that it is a dowry, but a dower would fit in more in this circumstance.
If it is a dower, then is the debt notional? It's there to favour the wife and, therefore, in the end the children. She seems to have remarried, staying at the farm (a customary tenement), dying as a widow in 1644.