It is hard to imagine a time back history some three hundred years ago when Stephen Martin, a yeoman, of Great Ellingham signed his last will and testament. In the presence of witnesses John Turner, Anthony Porter and James Dawes, Stephen Martin signed the will on the 9th October 1715.
In 1715, King George I was on the throne but Stephen Martin may well have been born during the reign of Charles II (1660-1685) or much earlier if he had defied all the odds and lived longer than the average life expectancy for that time which was under 40 years (until around 1800).
Some of the buildings in Great Ellingham today were around in Stephen Martin’s day albeit that they probably looked quite different having been altered over the next three hundred or years or so. In addition to the Parish Church, these buildings include the Old Hall (Great Ellingham Hall), Bury Hall, Poplar Farmhouse, Church Farmhouse, Mill Farmhouse, Grey Roofs to name a few, as well as some of the cottages which still exist in Church Street. We know from a notice appearing in a newspaper of 1785, that there was at least one grocer and draper’s shop in Church Street, Great Ellingham around 1715 (which was probably the shop which was later known as Ye Olde Thatche Shoppe).
Stephen Martin died around 1719. His grandson and sole executor, Stephen Turner, proved his will on the 21st October 1719.
In the will, Stephen Martin instructed that his body should be buried in a ‘decent and christian manner‘. His executor should settle all his debts within ‘a convenient time after my decease‘.
He left his daughter Mary Turner the sum of five shillings and six pence and this money should be paid to her within one month of his death.
Stephen gave to each of his granddaughters, Ann Mary and Rebekah, the sum of two shillings and six pence. Again, Stephen Martin directed that the sums were paid to his granddaughters within a month of his death.
Grandson Stephen Turner inherited the rest of his Stephen Martin’s estate (including his house and lands together with his chattols). With no mention of a wife or other family in the will, I assume that Stephen Martin was a widower and had no other living children.
Wills, S. (2013) How Our Ancestors Died. Pen and Sword Family History. p 4. ISBN9781781590386.
ID.569. Will of Stephen Martin, Yeoman of Great Ellingham. Pomeroy Collection. Box 7/6. Bundle 1. Wymondham Town Archive Council Offices 14 Middleton Street Wymondham Norfolk NR18 0AD
British Listed Buildings wesbite. https://britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/england/great-ellingham-breckland-norfolk Accessed 09.01.2020