The George Joyce Bequest

In 1652 the will of George Joyce, landowner, left a farm house and 125 acres called East Nurcott Farm in the County of Somerset for the benefit of the people in 3 villages, namely, Winsford, Cutcombe and Wootton Courtenay. The will directed that the farm be let on a tenancy and the income derived should be shared between the 3 villages after maintenance expenses for the farm had been deducted.

Since 1652 three trustees from each village have been responsible for the governance of the farm and tenancy and distribution of funds. This is probably one of the oldest bequests still in existence in the country and still operates exactly as the benefactor intended.  Thousands of families have benefited from his far seeing generosity over the last 366 years.

In that respect a charity was created which distributes the proceeds from the estate.

The trustees maintain and where necessary improve the property (farm land and dwelling) that constitute the charity’s permanent endowment, then distribute an equal sum to each of the three parishes as required by the governing document; they in turn distribute the money within their parish.

The aims of the charity are:

  • General charitable purposes
  • The advancement of health or saving of lives
  • The prevention or relief of poverty

Individuals can apply for funds (use the form below), examples include:

  • An educational need for a child
  • Or perhaps help towards hospital parking where many visits are needed

If you feel you could use their help, please use the form below to make contact. Your details will be sent directly to Philip Griffin who represents Wootton Courtenay and will remain private between the two of you.

Transcript of his Will:

In the name of God Amen

The seventeenth day of May in the year of the Lord One Thousand, six hundred and fifty two.

I, George Joyce, of the of the (parish?) of Winsford, in the County of Somerset, yeoman, being sick of body bot of good and perfect memory thanks be unto the Almighty God do constitute and ordayn this my last Will and Testament in manner and form as followeth.

First I do bequeath my sole into the hands of my Board and Saviour Jesus Christ and my body to the Christian buryall.

I give to the poor of the parishes of Winsford, Calcombe, and Wootton Courtenay equally [between] these three parishes poor people all my land lyeing and being in the parish of Winsford in a village called or known by the name of Nurcott after the decease of my wife Ellinor Joyce and to remain unto them forever.

And I give unto them my two tenements lying in the parish of Calcombe called by name of Hawkwill and [paid] after the decease of my wife if Robert [Severi] doe over live her for the whole tearme of life.

I give unto him my tenement at Luxboro called [perley] lately in the of occupation of William Butcher, and they shall have that after the five and twentieth day of March next ensuinge during the whole tearme that I have in it.

I give them all the howshold stuffe which is in my house or the value thereof after the decease of my wife. Item. I give them all the money which is owed unto me reservinge enough to my Executrix to our three sets of silver buttons.

I do entreat William Edbrooke of Winsford, Michael Hole of Wootton Courtenay and John Thorne of Calcombe to make the best use and benefitt they canne of their legacies given to the poore of those three parishes, and for their pains I give unto them one set of silver buttons apiece.

I give unto my God Children, ten shillings apiece and my Will is that Mr Pinn my landlord shall have my red cow, and four pounds in money at my death for Hariotts.

The rest of my goods and Chattels not given nor bequeathed my debts and legacies payd, my funerall charges defrayed I give & bequeathe unto my wife Ellinor Joyce whome I doe make constitute and ordayne whole and sole Executrix of this my last will and Testament whereunto Witnesses William Edbrooke Christopher Hobs.

After the death of those three men here name my Will is that the wardins and overseers of those three parishes shall have the [ordeinge] of these legacies for those poore.

George Joyce.

Click to enlarge the two pages of George’s will.