Mee Wills and Inventories (Probate)

The following information was taken from a Book called "Genealogy of the Mee Family" which was written by Charles Cowper Mee, dated 1913. A copy of this book is in the Museum of Leister, England. A microfilmed version of this book can be seen at a Latter-day Saint's Family History Center, Film #0944099 #ID# M/F 46

 In these Wills of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the Testators
 are described as Husbandmen.This precise term, seldom met with in any Wills
 of a later date than the end of the seventeenth century, clearly defines the
 conditions under which they held their holdings, namely that they were not the
 actual possessors of the lands they farmed but held them on leases from other
 freeholders.  Had they held them as freeholders, they would have been
 described as Yeomen (Freeholders).  This term Yeoman is now seldom understood
 in the sense in which it was formerly used by everyone, with the exception of
 Knights of the Shire, the Nobility and Lords of Manors.  Ancient Armsbearing
 Families not Lords of Manors almost invariably used this term in order to
 denote that they were the actual holders of their lands, and under no
 obligation to the Lord of the Manor, whose social status was in some cases of
 no particular importance and who may have purchased an estate which carried
 with it the Lordship of some ancient Feudal Manor, or the right of the
 presentation to the Church. Living included in the Manor when it became
 vacant, with which however the family of the Lord of the Manor had no past
 connection, and had acquired by purchase.  Invariably when a son died during
 the lifetime of his Yeoman parent, the son is described as a Husbandman; in
 other words, if he happened to farm a portion of his parentís estate which had
 not been deeded to him to hold as his own absolutely, he was regarded as a
 Tenant or Husbandman, and thus described in his Will.
     It is difficult without perusing the Wills of that period to clearly grasp
 the utter destitution and ruin that overtook so many even of the formerly
 opulent ancient families of the Midlands at the close of the Civil War, and
 during the reign of William and Mary, 1649-60, 1694-1702.  Many of the younger
 sons emigrated, others became tradesmen and labourers, some highwaymen.  The
 coinage was chipped, which meant that no coin was worth the value it was
 intended to represent, hence while payments were made to mechanics, officers
 and others in actual coin, merchants refused to accept the money except by
 weight, and it sometimes required at least three shillings to pay for goods
 the cost of which was two shillings; consequently it was more profitable to
 produce goods and sell them than to earn money and purchase the necessities of
 life by agriculture, which was then in a very depressed condition.
	With the exception of William Mee of Ravenstone, baptized a 
 Ashby-de-la-Zouche, 5th November, 1754, who appears to have acquired an
 agricultural holding, as in one of his marriage entries he is described as a
 Yeoman, the Mee Family in the eighteenth century maintained themselves as
 manufacturers and traders, and gradually acquired sufficient to purchase
 freehold property in Ashby-de-la-Zouche.  The tradesmen of the town being in
 many instances the sons and grandsons of impoverished families of which the
 eldest son was barely able to hold his patrimony together and preserve his
 ancestral acres.

	John Mee, of Castle Donington, born during the last quarter of the
 fifteenth century, married Margaret Howet.  A family of the name of Howet was
 about that period living in the adjacent parish of Hemington, the church of
 which was suppressed at the Dissolution, and the Parish Registers and
 transcripts were incorporated with Lockington.  She was buried at Castle
 Donington 26th November, 1558.  John Mee predeceased her, and was buried at
 Castle Donington 20th June, 1552.  In his will, which is dated 1552, to 
 which an inventory is attached dated 27th June, 1552 (the fifth year of the
 reign of Edward VI), (amount £53 8s 4d.) he directs that he is to be buried
 either in the church or churchyard, and after making bequests to his poor
 neighbours and relations, leaves the residue of his property in two equal
 parts to his wife, Margaret, the sister of Mr. Cholans Howet, and his younger
 son Robert, whom he constitutes his executors.He mentions in his will his sons
 Roger, William, John, and Robert; Avorete Mee, the daughter of his son Roger;
 John Atwell the elder, and John Atwell the younger; Agness Cann.  The
 witnesses are: William Bowier, Vicar and Curate, Thomas Carr, William Robts,
 Roger Mee.  The will and inventory is filed at Leicester in bundle 1552.  John
 Mee was a tenant, either on ecclesiastical property, or what is more probable,
 on part of the Royal domain.  The Castle, town, manor, and Honour of Donington
 were, from the time of the Conquest, the property of the Barons of Haulton.
 In 1310 they passed by marriage to Thomas Plantaganet, Earl of Lancaster,
 Leicester and Derby; and till the reign of Queen Elizabeth formed part of the
 Duchy of Lancaster.  Queen Elizabeth seems to have assigned them to the Earl
 of Essex, who, in 1594-5, sold them to the Hastings family, who as Earls of
 Huntingdon, were Stewards of the Royal domain in that locality.  It is
 doubtful if members of any of the yeoman families possessed freehold property
 there before the dissolution and sale of the ecclesiastical estates, the land
 not vested in the Crown and the religious establishments being held by the
 great feudal families of Hastings, Ferrers, and Grey.

	Regarding the sons of John and Margaret Mee--

 1.  Roger settled at Lockington, where he died in November and was buried at
 Castle Donington 27th November, 1558.  Nothing is known of his daughter
 Avorete mentioned in the will of her grandfather, John Mee, 1552.  His wife,
 Elizabeth, remarried at Lockington 7th October, 1559, John Gratton, of
 Diseworth.  A family of Mee, probably the descendants of Roger, were living at
 Lockington until the middle of the nineteenth century.  A Robert Mee, baptized
 at Lockington, 19th March, 1675, married in 1701 Sybill Kilbourne of
 Lockington. He is described as a yeoman, and settled at Stanton-by-Dale, co.
 Derby, where he died in 1725.  His descendants were living at Stanton-by-Dale
 in 1824.

 2.  William settled at Diseworth.  His will was proved 1579 and filed at

 3.  John settled at Diseworth.  His will was proved 1605 and filed at
	Their descendants continued to live at Diseworth, in the Parish
 Register of which, and in the transcripts, there are (between 1583 and 1748)
 one hundred and seventy entries relating to them, and many of a still
 later date extending to 1900.  In the adjacent parish of Breedon-on-the Hill
 (which includes Worthington and formerly included I addition to Breedon and
 Tonge, Wenalston or Wilson, Staunton Harold, Andreskirk, part of Coleorton, a
 third part of Lount, and some part of the village of Diseworth), there are 
 (between 1669 and 1756) forty-eight entries relating to them, and others of a
 later date extending to 1900).

 4. Robert Mee, mentioned in the will of his father, John Mee, 1552, as the
 youngest son, settled at Aston-on-Trent, co. Derby, which is distant about
 three miles from Castle Donington.  He was born before 1539--the date of the
 earliest register of Castle Donington.  He married between the years 1560-
 1570, Jane Wilson, of Finderne, co. Derby, by whom he had eight children that
 are known of , namely three sons, and five daughters.  None of the daughters
 are mentioned in is will, and it is evident that they were all married during
 his lifetime.  His will is dated 1st February, 1602, and was proved and filed
 at Lichfield 16th February, 1602, the last year of the reign of Queen
 ***** It is this son that I have alot of the descendants written down.  I have
 met two people that are descendants of this line and through this I have added
 to the pedigree that was in the Genealogy of the Mee Family book.  

See the Transcript: Original Will of Jhon Mee of Castle Donnington, co. Leicester, Dated 1552

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