Will of Richard de Beauvoir

21st October 2015
Balmes House, Hackney, Environs of London II, Cadell and Davies, 1795

'From MSS in possession of Mrs Fred. Dobrée, The Laurels, Candie. Notes taken 20 November 1909.' From the de Beauvoir files in the Library, which include a full copy of this will and others from this branch of the de Beauvoir family; and a letter of 1681 in French (here translated) from Richard to his brother James in Guernsey, taken from an undated newspaper cutting.  The illustration of Balmes House is a figure from the Rev. D. Lyson's Environs of London &c, Vol. II. the County of Middlesex, London: Cadell and Davies, 1795, in the Library Collection.

Extracts from the Will & Codicil of Richard de Beauvoir Esqr, son of Peter de Beauvoir who married Ann Legg, dated Balmes, 29 October 1695

After mentioning that he had purchased the Estate called Balmes at Hackney from Lord Craven and other Trustees of the late William Whitmore Esq., and that he left the enjoyment of it to his Widow during her life and afterwards to his sons and their male Heirs for ever, he says

and in case all my said sons [Richard and Osmond were the only sons living at the at the time he made his will and at the time of his death] shall happen to die without heirs made of their body lawfully begotten, then I give and bequeath the said Manor House, orchards, gardens, Farm Lands Tenements and heriditaments before specified in an ample manner to my son-in-law Peter de Beauvoir and his heirs such with the same liberty to make joynture or jouyntures out of the same but with the libre (?) restrictions as my aforesaid sons are hereby enjoyned to do, and in case my said son-in-law Peter de Beauvoir shall happen to die without issue male, then I give and bequeath the said manor and all other premises before specified to my nephew James de Beauvoir and his male Heirs &c., and for want of Issue male then I give the said manor &c to the Heirs male of the next of kin of my name and family and so to descend from generation to generation, to the first heir male of the family and name forever.

Extract from Codicil

And whereas I have by my said Will given my Estate of Balmes unto my Eldest son Richard de Beauvoir and his Heirs male for ever, I do by this my Codicil ... give him leave to sell the said Estate of Balmes to purchase any other Estate or Estates  so that he lays out and employs the full sum of Balmes to hold to the use of any Heirs and for the uses specified in the said will. [NB It is supposed that the Gray's Inn Estate was bought with the money.]

Richard, a wool merchant who moved to London from Guernsey, bought the manor of Balmes [for a video reconstruction] in Hackney in 1680. He acquired it from the estate of William Whitmore III, grandson of a Lord Mayor of London, Sir George Whitmore. William had been fatally injured aged 19 in a shooting accident. The lease of the Manor House, famous in Tudor times for its magnificent gardens, had been leased by the 'haberdasher' William Whitmore of Apley in Shropshire, who made a great deal of money in London. His son, the Royalist William Whitmore II, purchased it from his mother, Anne, for his younger brother Sir George, who rebuilt it in the most fashionable style. One of William II's sisters, Margaret, a widow, married at the age of 54 Sir John St John. His wife Anne Leighton, the daughter of Sir Thomas Leighton, had recently died. Sir John was the brother of Walter St John, who had drowned in Herm aged around 13. [Thanks to Margaret Davison for genealogical information.]

An ancient Letter

The following letter, whose antiquity is testified by the date which precedes it, was found by a Guernsey gentleman now residing in England, amongst some of his father's papers:

London, 16 April 1681.

Monsieur, and dearest brother, 

I received your two letters via Betston and Richard de Jersay, and to give you a positive response to your points, I will tell you that first, I have spoken to Mr Steares, who has assured me that he cannot sell the Tod of wool for any less than 29 shillings, if it is of good quality and of the March Shearing. As you requested, bearing that in mind I did not want to give him your commission. As soon as I receive your instructions in the affirmative concerning this matter I will contact you and I am convinced that Monsieur Steares will sell it to me as cheaply as any in the Island. As for the matter of your cousin Charles, although you have assured him it is necessary it will nevertheless be carried out according to your inclination. I can assure you, Charles will become rich. I am quite satisfied that the company is worth £60 sterling per milling (moutre) in French money, £780 sterling. Please make sure that you draw the money you fund them with on my account quickly, now that you have access to money from my income, so that this does not lead to inconsistencies in our accounts. Sorry for the trouble.

My nephew has gone off to school with his cousin Nicolas Ahier; I hope you take both consolation and joy from it. Last Thursday Madame Gouin, my Lord Burford—the king's son—and several ladies of quality came to dine with me at Chiswick. My nephew was still with me, and he regaled my Lord Burford with a tour of all the birds' nests in the garden. You can see that everything is going along splendidly in this Kingdom, with God's help.

You have sent me two identical letters, signed by the Court, but without any address, and without telling me to whom they are supposed to be addressed. I consulted Mr Messurier and he told me one was for Colonel Legge, so as a result I sealed and delivered it. I find it quite amusing that the author of the letter, who in his style is far from a Balsac or a Voiture, does me the honour of putting me on a level with Philip du Vall. I paid the £50 sterling you had contracted and you will give them thirty £30 each month making £390 the Ton, and I am sure that this will work out well.

I am, with deep affection Monsieur and dearest Brother, your very humble and affectionate Brother and friend,


Signature Richard de Beauvoir 1695

9 July 1695. Le mardy 9e Juillet 1695 a esté benit par Monsr de Rocheblave un des ministres de cette Eglise le mariage de Monsr Jean Marchand de Lille de Grenezé, et Made Rebeca Priaulx aussy de lade Ille presentee par Monsr Richard de Beauvoir oncle de lade Demoiselle Rebeca de Pryaux en vertu dune lissance accordee par Mylord Archeveque de Cantorbery dattee du 8e Juillet 1695 signee  -- Radulphus en foy de quoy ils ont signé: Jean Le Marchant. Rebecca Priaulx. Richard de Beauvoir. Rocheblave ministre.

Richard de Beauvoir was the son of Pierre de Beauvoir, Bailiff of Guernsey, and his second wife, Anne Legge, whose father Richard Legge was a merchant in St Malo. Pierre had first married Jeanne Le Moyne of Vitré, by whom he had had one son who died young. Richard had a brother, James, who married Anne de Lisle and who had two sons, Pierre and James, and three daughters, Rachel, who married Nicholas Carey, and Martha, who married William de Lisle son of Thomas.

Richard de Beauvoir married Marie Priaulx, the daughter of Pierre Priaulx, Seigneur du Comte, and Rebecca de Saumarez. Rebecca Priaulx was the daughter of Marie's brother, John Priaulx. This marriage took place at the Swallow Street Chapel, Piccadilly, which had removed from the French Ambassador's Chapel at Monmouth House, Soho, in 1690. An old tree in the Library's De Beauvoir Family Files has it that Richard and Marie produced five daughters as well as their two sons: Judith, who married Andrew MacDowell, Marie, who married Pierre de Beauvoir, Anne, who did not marry, Rebecca, who married Jean Nicholas, and the Rachel mentioned above, who married Francis Thyssen.