For my first Treasure Chest Thursday I really have to start with the wonderful treasure I found, purely by chance, of the Discharge of Legacy for Betty BURGESS. There were two others with it (see the three documents on my Old Documents pages), but this one was the real treasure, such a gem to just come across – a dream find for a family historian!!
As mentioned elsewhere in other posts, I had been stuck for almost ten years looking for the baptism and parents of my 6 x great grandfather Cozens READ.
I was going to be visiting Buckinghamshire where my ancestors came from (or so I thought) and had arranged to visit a farm where one of Cozens READ’s daughters (Mary) went to live after her marriage to William ROSE. Mrs. ROSE who lived there had told me in a letter that she had a family tree and that READs were mentioned in it, but it wasn’t until my other half and I actually visited the farm and Mrs. ROSE that we discovered the family tree was a huge book, beautifully written up in calligraphy and with lovely coats of arms drawn in it on most pages. This was an absolute treasure in itself, but for me the real gem was when we reached the end of the huge family tree book and found tucked in the back many pages of notes, as well as birth, marriage and death certificates, photos and all sorts of things. Also there were three original parchment documents, two dated 1783 and one dated 1804. These were Discharges of Legacy.
I was thrilled to see the two 1783 documents because these were for two of Cozens READ’s daughters who had inherited some money from his Will. These documents were obviously for the payment of that inheritance to the two daughters.
The third Discharge of Legacy was for Betty BURGESS. I had not come across her in my research before, but on reading the document, she was being paid a legacy from the Will of Rachel READ (who I had not come across before either) and that Betty was Rachel’s niece. What made it immediately thrilling for me was that this document also mentioned Michael READ, (Rachel’s nephew) of Lower Winchendon and he was obviously the executor to Rachel’s Will and was arranging this payment to Betty BURGESS.
Well, this document unwittingly told me that Rachel was therefore the sister of Cozens READ as his son Michael was her nephew. I had discovered all 20 children of Cozens and Elizabeth READ and knew who married who and what children they had, but there was never any mention of a Betty BURGESS. So clearly Betty wasn’t the daughter of Cozens READ. And Betty was in Oxfordshire, as was Rachel who was “late of Tiddington”.
I can’t tell you just how excited I was by this, but I was also a little stumped as Betty was a mystery. The legacy was actually paid to her husband William BURGESS, so I thought I must look for that marriage but I also thought a priority had to be to get hold of a copy of Rachel READ’s Will. (I found the Betty BURGESS marriage later but with some difficulty, as Betty READ had married Thomas LOVEGROVE before William BURGESS and of course when I started searching, although I thought she was a READ, I wasn’t sure)!!
I was lucky enough to get a copy of Rachel READ’s Will and what a joy that turned out to be. She was a spinster, so had no husband and children and grandchildren to leave anything to, so she left legacies for her nephews and nieces, such a lot of them!! And she very kindly confirmed the married names of her nieces that were Cozens READ’s daughters, and gave the occupations and places where they lived of her nephews that were Cozens READ’s sons. I already had most of these details but they were additional proof.
Then she mentioned her nephews and nieces that were the children of her other siblings! Oh wow, this was so exciting as this led me to find all the family in Oxfordshire and what in the end led me to finding the baptism of Cozens READ and his parents.
I could not have wished for a better treasure than the Discharge of Legacy for Betty BURGESS. It led to me discovering so much, when I had been floundering for such a long time, to try to go further back in time.
Rachel READ also mentioned in her Will that her cousin Ann COZENS was living with her – another delightful gem – because once I discovered Cozens READ’s parents, I have been stuck for a long time as to who the parents of his mother Elizabeth COSENS are!! Rachel’s cousin Ann COZENS also left a truly wonderful Will, because like Rachel, she was also a spinster, so no husband, children or grandchildren to leave anything to, so she too left legacies for her nephews and nieces and also to Rachel’s READ nephews and nieces, so it has given me so much to work with.
All this came totally out of the blue, just found purely by chance while visiting an ancestor’s home that is thankfully still extant.
That original parchment document, tucked into the back of a huge book was simply the best treasure of all!!