Friday, April 6, 2012

Sarah Sheppard King

Fortunate family historians may come across an inventory attached to a will such as the one made by Swindon surveyor James Radway on behalf of the trustees of Miss King's estates.

Spinster Sarah Sheppard King was born in 1826 in the parish of Lydiard Tregoze, the daughter of yeoman farmer Richard Dore King and his wife Elizabeth.  For eighteen years she lived with her sister Elizabeth at Yucca Villa in the Sands during which time she managed to cram an awful lot of stuff into her spacious newly built home.

Miss King had the usual settee, chairs and tables in the Drawing Room.  Pride of place went to a 'Hansome Inlaid Cabinet with Glass Panel Doors' containing 'Tea and Coffee Service 40 pieces, 20 various pieces of China, 2 China Bowls, 2 small bowls, 3 Large China Cups, 2 Tea Pots, 2 Small Basins and a Pair of Marine Shells.'

Arranged along the Mantel were '6 Cups and Saucers (blue) 4 Flower Vases, a Small Vase, 2 Figure Statuettes, 2 Brackets and Pair of Shells and a Stereoscope' (a photograph viewing instrument that creates a 3D effect).

Although stuffed with furniture, the Dining Room had fewer sundries, just '2 Brackets and 2 Small Teapots, a Small Book Case and Several Books and an Engraving in Frame - Death of Nelson.'

Silver items are listed separately - 'Quart Tankard with Lid, Punch Ladle, 2 Gravy Spoons, 9 Table Spoons, 11 Dessert Spoons, 24 Tea Spoons, 4 Salt Spoons, Sugar Sifter, 3 Pairs Sugar Tongs, Sugar Scoop and 2 Caddy Spoons.'

Miss King died at her elegant home on March 9, 1896 where her effects were valued at £1,468 7s 11d worth today more than half a million pounds.

But the homes of the wealthy were not always so lavishly furnished and previous generations put more value on the useful than the decorative, as an inventory taken after the death of Thomas Edney in 1673 reveals.

The assets of landowner and farmer begin with '2 dairy cows, 2 twoyeare old heifers and 1 store pig' worth in total £11.19s with the outhouses containing '1 new cheese press.  About the value of 6 stalls with their furniture, 3 cawls, 1 peere of scales, eights belonging & other lumber' coming in at £1 13s 4d.

Thomas Edney and his wife Sibyl lived in a house in Creekard Streete (Cricklade Street) but even here listing priority went to '1 hundred & a half of cheese at 30 shillings, Wood, Cole 36 shillings, French Beanes, a pan of lard 8 shillings, Slatts 5 shillings, cheese tacks, old lid & other lumber at 20 shillings.'

Edney's 17th century estate along with the contents of his eight roomed house, pewter, linen and 'Money in ye house & weareing apparell' totalled a not inconsiderable £258 18s 10d worth today in the region of £393,000.

Images - 1905 William Hooper view of The Sands is published courtesy of Paul Williams; Cricklade Street in the 1960s and the Sands courtesy of Swindon Local Studies Collection - visit the website on

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