Abraham Guswell and Rebecca Bawden

Abraham Guswell / Goswill was born in 1667 in Exeter, Devon, England, the son of John Guswill (d 1679) and Mary Pope. John and Mary had married at St Edmunds, Exeter on 8 May 1662.

St Mary Steps Exeter Devon England

Abraham was baptised on 3 February 1667 at St Mary Steps, Exeter, Devon.

John was described as a clothier of Exeter in his will in 1679 (Devon Wills).

Abraham was one of seven children – John 1663, Mary 1664, Abraham 1667-1719, Isaac 1670, Sarah 1672, Elizabeth 1675  and Jacob in 1676.

Abraham was a fuller and merchant in Exeter, Devon. See Samuel Pierce’s page about fullers.

On 25 October 1691 Abraham married Rebecca Bawden at St Davids, Exeter, Devon. Rebecca was the daughter of Humphrey Bawden (1629-1692) and Elizabeth Poole, and she was baptised on 13 February 1670 at Holy Trinity, Exeter.

The Charities in the Co of Devon, Commissioners for Inquiries concerning charities 1839

In 1678 Humphrey gave a gift to the parish of St Mary Arches, Exeter, an annuity or yearly rent of 20s out of two tenements and cottages called Friernhay by charitable intent. (The Charities in the Co of Devon – googlebooks)

Abraham and Rebecca had just two children –

  1. Mary born 1696 & d 1737 Exeter, Devon. Marr Peter Scott, 7 children – Abraham, Peter Rebeckah, Thomas, Mary, Rebecah, and Abraham.
  2. Elizabeth b 1699 & d 1739 Exeter, Devon. Marr Samuel Pierce, 9 children.

Rebecca Guswell died in March 1701, possibly in childbirth aged just 31 years and was buried at Holy Trinity Exeter on 17 March 1701.

Abraham married again to Dorothy Fisher, the widow of Timothy Terry, grocer of Exeter and had four children. Timothy Terry had died in Exeter in 1709 leaving Dorothy with two young surviving children.  Timothy and and Dorothy’s children were Robert 1700-1702, Elizabeth 1702-1705, Dorothy 1702-1728 and Timothy 1707-1736.

Abraham and Dorothy’s children were –

  1. Penelope b 1712 & d 1719 Exeter
  2. Abraham b 1714 & d 1714 Exeter
  3. Abraham b 1716 & d 1720 Exeter
  4. Ann b 1718 & d 1750 Exeter. Ann married Etheldred Davy in 1738 at Holy Trinity, Exeter and had 10 children.

In 1679 Abraham Guswell was involved in a personal dispute, the subject being his father’s will and disposal of his estate – John Goswell of Exeter.

National Archives, Kew, London

Abraham appears in two legal court cases regarding property in St Mary Arches and Holy Trinity, Exeter, Devon in 1694 and 1695 –

National Archives, Kew, London

National Archives, Kew, London

Abraham Guswell / Goswell died sometime before his will was probated in September 1719. In 1723 a legal dispute arose which the Pierce and Guswill families were involved. It seems there was a dispute over Abraham’s will between the descendants of his two wives –

National Archives Catalogue, Kew, London

In Abrahams 1719 PCC will (available on Ancestry) he leaves 100 pounds to his daughter Mary Scott, and to her children Peter and Robert, 50 pounds each. To the daughters from his first marriage he gives Elizabeth Goswill 450 pounds. To his brother John shillings per week for life, and his estate in St George, Exeter. To his brother Isaac and sister Mary Talbott, 10 pounds each, the remainder to his wife Dorothy Goswill but if she should marry to his daughter Penelope and Ann and son Abraham 450 pounds each, and to Abraham all his estates and houses, and if these children should die before 21 then the money and houses revert to my daughters Mary Scott and Elizabeth Goswell in equal shares.

The Codicil of Abraham Guswell’s will in 1719

A complicated Codicil addendum states that his daughter Elizabeth Goswill’s fortune of 450 pounds is not be paid until she is 21 years, and if his wife Dorothy remarries, then the fortune is to go to his surviving children of his first marriage only.

I haven’t been able to gain access to the document held in the National Archives to see the outcome of the dispute.

It seems Dorothy was also involved in a few court cases and documents of her own –

  • 1727 Short title: Sommers v Goswill. Document type: Three bills and two answers. Plaintiffs: Nicholas Sommers, fuller of Exeter, Devon. Defendants: Dorothy Goswill, widow, Nathaniel Francklin, Sarah Sommers, Nicholas Hutchings, Thomas Green, Roger Prowse and Samuel Strong.
  • 1730 Short title: Sommers v Goswill. Document type: Bill, answer and plea. Plaintiffs: Nicholas Sommers, fuller of Exeter, Devon. Defendants: Dorothy Goswill, widow.
  • 1731 Short title: Sommers v Goswill. Document type: Depositions Plaintiffs: Nicholas Sommers. Defendants: Dorothy Goswill, widow. Depositions taken at Exeter, Devon.  (National Archives).
  • 1741 Short title: Stabback v Havill. Document type: bill and answer.

    Plaintiffs: William Stabback grocer surviving assignee of estate of John Chears and Peter Chears fullers and partners, Dorothy Goswill widow, John Bingham haberdasher of hats and Anne Bingham his wife (the daughter of Richard Prynn and Anne Prynn his wife both deceased) all of Exeter, Devon. Defendants: Francis Havill widow and executrix of John Havill deceased and formerly widow and executrix of Edward Mann deceased.

Abraham’s second wife Dorothy Goswell died in 1746 in Exeter. Her very long and complicated PCC will is also available on Ancestry. In it she mentions-

  • she wants to be buried in the grave of her son Timothy Terry deceased in the church of Pehembury, Devon.
  • Catherine Cleaeves, 10 pounds for mourning
  • sister in law Tryshena Tathell 10 pounds
  • brother in law John Terry 10 pounds
  • son in law Samuel Pierce
  • Francis Brayne of Exeter, druggist 30 pounds
  • daughter in law Elizabeth Pierce, 100 pounds
  • Samuel Pierce and Elizabeth Pierce 10 pounds for mourning
  • all their children of which thre are five – Adam, Samuel, John Eyles, Mary, Elizabeth and Anne – 10 pounds each
  • Peter Scott junior 10 pounds
  • Rebecca Scott 20 pounds
  • Abraham Scott 20 pounds
  • daughter Ann the wife of Etheldred Davy, merchant of Exeter 150 pounds
  • servants Timothy Birkford and Robert Cunn and their wives
  • to the poor of Holy Trinity 20 pounds
  • lots of other unknown people including the charity school
  • mentions her marriage settlement to Timothy Terry
  • grandson Richard Batson? 600 pounds
  • 3000 pounds and houses and tenements to be held in trust for her two daughters Ann Davy and Mary Etheldred
  • Executors Samuel Pierce and Francis Brayne

In 1748 there was again a court case involving Dorothy’s estate –

National Archives, Kew, London