Will of Sarah Fyge Egerton, 1721 (proved 1722)

National Archives: PROB 11/589

Sarah Fyge Egerton was a noted poet and advocate of women's rights

1. This is the last Will and Testament

2. of me Sarah Fyge Egerton Relict of Thomas Egerton Rector late of Adstock

3. Bucks.  First I com(m)end my Spirit to Almighty God who gave it hoping

4. his acceptance in and through Jesus Christ the Son of his Love and as to

5. my body to be  buried in Winslow Church in or near the Monument of

6. my grand grandfather Thomas Fyge and to have a Monument for me

7. value fifty pound with the inclosed Inscription on the Marble set in on

8. the Wall or else at Westminster Church near Cowley's Tomb To

9. Winslow Church to the use of the Communion only I give my largest

10. Silver Salver for ever and to the poor of Winslow I give five pounds to be

11. given at 5 several times in Bread the 5 first Sundays after my decease

12. To the Poor of Adstock 3 pounds To Shenly Poor 2 pounds in a month

13. after my death and Twenty Shillings yearly for the Poor of Winslow for

14. ever, beginning at the first fifth day of March after my death I give to Thos

15. Fyge Spendeloe of Lichf(ield)  County Staffs Gent. my Silver Tankard mark W(ilm).F

16. T.F. S.F. and 40 pounds in mony.  To Margret Spendeloe his Sister my gold

17. Watch and all the things hanging on its Chain together with all my wearing

18. Cloaths and Linnen whatever Damask or Diaper or Flaxen Lace or Lawn

19. Muslin or anything to use or wear To Charles Spendeloe all my Books and

20. papers whatever To Edward Cressy 30 pounds to sett him when out of his

21. time and not till then, his Uncle Feilds picture and the little Cabinet inlaid

22. which was his Uncle Edward Feilds I give my Estate at Shenly to Tho. Aldridge

23. during Life paying 4 pounds a year to Mrs.Cressy Wife of Valentine Cressy

24. yearly during the Lease if he dy  to Martha Fyge the Lease paying the said

25. 4 pounds I give  5 li.  to Phil Egerton to Mr. Samuel Chapman mourning 20 li.

26. for him as my Trustee To my 3 sisters each 7 li. for Mourning Six Ladys to

27. bear the Pall each to have 20s Ring enameld with white wrote within only

28 remember Clarinda 1721 such a Ring too for Robert Lounds Esq. and to his

29. Lady the Picture of Charles the V Emperor To my sisters what I call Papa

30. and Mama a Ring to the Mother of Lady Fla done white one to Mr. Peirce

31. if John Egerton give him none for his Father My Monument to be

32. managed by my Executer and Brown Willis Esq 5 li. each a Atchievment

33 where ‘ere I lived drawn by that Little One and blazon'd so, I have by me,

34. and at end of the year set in  the Church near the Monument all the

35. rest of Goods and Chattells I give to Tho. Aldridge whom I nominate and

36. appoint my Executor of this my last Will and Testament In Witness

37. whereof I have set my hand and seal this 10th day of April 1721 Sarah Fyge

38. Egerton In presence of Thos. Busby Elizabeth Springall

39. Whereas the said Samuel Chapman mention’d in this Will being

40. deceased It is my Will and mind the said sum of Twenty pounds be given to

41. Thomas Wainman of London this 16th day of July 1722 Witness my hand Sarah

42. Fyge Egerton. Sign’d and seald in the presence of Isabell Craven Marget

43. Jeffe.

44                                      December ye 10 1722

45.  I give to Cosen Elizabeth Cressy six pound a year to be paid yearly

46. out of my Estate at Shenley during the Lease to be paid by Tho. Aldridge

47. or my Sister Martha Fyge as exprest in the other Side of this my last Will

48. the Mark of Sarah Egerton Witness Christopher Adkins Elizabeth

49. Longbridge ye mark of Martha Sponer

[Grant of probate in Latin]

[translation] This will was proved at London with the two codicils annexed on 18 February 1722 [i.e. 1723 new style] next to and before the Venerable Berney Brauthwayt doctor of laws, surrogate of the Venerable and Distinguished John Bettesworth, also doctor of laws, of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, Master, Warden or Commissary legitimately appointed, on the oath of Thomas Aldrige, named sole executor in the said will.  To him was entrusted administration of all the goods and credits of the said deceased, and he was sworn on God’s holy gospels about the good and faithful administration of the same.

 


Notes

l.8 seems to refer to the poet Abraham Cowley (1618-67), who was buried in Westminster Abbey.

l.30 appears to have been copied incorrectly by the PCC clerk.

l.32: OED s.v. achievement: "Formerly also: a square or diamond-shaped panel or canvas with a deceased person's armorial bearings, affixed to his or her house during mourning or placed in a church."

According to the Victoria County History, "An Allotment containing 1a 1r 35p awarded under the Inclosure Act 1766 in exchange for an ancient inclosure in Shipton in this parish, which appears to have constituted the property of Sarah Egerton's Charity mentioned in the Parliamentary Return of 1786 but is now known as the Charity of Thomas Bishop."

Sarah was born in 1669/70. She has an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (under Egerton) from which some of the following information derives. She published The Female Advocate (full text available via Emory University) in 1686, after which her father sent her to live with relatives at Shenley. Her first husband was Edward Field, an attorney, probably the Edward(?) Field baptised 3 March 1666/7 at Shenley, and the Edward Field buried there on 25 August 1698. Her poem "The Retreat" refers to life at Shenley in very positive terms.

Thomas Egerton, Rector of Adstock (the third of that name who was Rector) married Mrs Sarah Field, widow, of London, on 10 June 1701. He had earlier been married to Elizabeth Butterfield of Middle Claydon on 26 May 1674 and she was the mother of his children (5 still alive when he remarried). She was buried 5 August 1700. The marriage of Thomas and Sarah was notoriously unhappy and they tried to get divorced in 1703. She was said to have fled to London, and to be having an affair with her first husband's friend Henry Pearce ('Alexis' in her poems). Egerton died in 1720.

In 1700 Sarah wrote an ode on the death of John Dryden: "Luctus Britannici, or, The Tears of the British Muses", and she also contributed to The Nine Muses (1700), a volume of poems by women in memory of Dryden. She knew Mary Pix the dramatist, who grew up in Buckingham. In 1703 she published Poems on Several Occasions, reissued in 1706 along with The Female Advocate. This is the first part of her poem "The Emulation":

Say Tyrant Custom, why must we obey,
The impositions of thy haughty Sway?
From the first dawn of Life unto the Grave,
Poor Womankind's in every State a Slave,
The Nurse, the Mistress, Parent and the Swain,
For Love she must, there's no escape that Pain;
Then comes the last, the fatal Slavery,
The Husband with insulting Tyranny
Can have ill Manners justify'd by Law;
For Men all join to keep the Wife in awe.
Moses who first our Freedom did rebuke,
Was Marry'd when he writ the Pentateuch:
They're wise to keep us Slaves, for well they know,
If we were loose, we soon should make them so.
We yield like vanquish'd Kings whom Fetters bind,
When chance of War is to Usurpers kind:
Submit in Form; but they'd our Thoughts controul,
And lay restraints on the impassive Soul......

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