Medieval wills provide insights into the lives of ordinary people: their family and social networks, their religious convictions and piety, their wealth, their personal and domestic possessions, their livestock and the tools of their trade. For many places such documents have not survived, but they have for the medieval parish of Rickmansworth, which encompassed the settlements at Batchworth, Chorleywood, Croxley, Maple Cross, Mill End and West Hyde, as well as Rickmansworth itself.
In all there are 213 surviving wills of Rickmansworth parishioners dating from 1409 to 1539, and probate documents relating to 35 others. As well as revealing details of life (and death) in the parish the wills also tell us about the church of St Mary’s, which was rebuilt (twice) in the nineteenth century. The wills also provide names of numerous relatives, servants and friends in the locality.
Although testators rarely stated where they lived – all were expected to attend St Mary’s and would be buried there – it is clear that they came from all over the parish. Tax assessments from 1524 do reveal in which settlement taxpayers lived and so people named in wills made about that time can be located more definitely.
Our latest book, Pre-Reformation wills from Rickmansworth parish (1409 to 1539) prepared by our chairman Dr Heather Falvey, provides the text of all of these documents, including the tax assessments, while the introduction discusses in depth life in the medieval parish.
You can buy a copy for only £7.50 at Three Rivers Museum in Rickmansworth, or at the Society’s monthly meetings. Or you can order a copy by using the form here: