FOLK-LORE IN WILLS.
Notes from West Kent.
THOSE members of this Society who may have occasion to consult the wills at Somerset House or in the various District Probate Registries will doubtless have observed how full of local allusion many of these documents are; not only bequests to every saint's light in the church, but sometimes each field the testator owned is duly bequeathed by name. I take this opportunity of suggesting that, when opportunity offers, special note should be made of any reference to local customs. The harvest will not be a very full one, but such notes, when they do occur, will always be of interest, and may be of considerable value in tracing the continuity of a custom in a given district. I have lately been paying some attention to the wills of persons formerly resident in West Kent, and proved in the Consistory Court of Rochester, the records of which begin in 1440. The earlier wills are, of course, in Latin, but about 1480 English is more general, and the wills are not always in a stiff, legal mold, but frequently bear evidence of having been set down from the actual words used by the testators.
From them I have noted the following bequests for the keeping up of Ales:—
Stephen Jacobe, of St. Wereburge in Hoo, in his will, dated 18th August 1480 [Book III, fo. 265], says:
"Also I will that myne heirs shall haue v yerdis of land lieing in longefeld and v yerdis of land in pettefild upon this condicon folowyng that thes shall make or doo make yerly a yefale on Trinite Eve and on the Trinite Sondaye and beryng chargis yerly V buschell of wethe and i seue of malt and xijd. in chese too