‘Dear Brother,’ part 12, the will of the Rev William Bromley Cadogan (1797): ‘I am freed from all debts and incumbrances whatever’

The Rev William Bromley Cadogan Vicar of Reading and Chelsea (1751 – 1797) married Jane Graham (d.1827) widow of Captain Bradshaw, in 1782, the year before Charles Cadogan set out from Dover.
‘Dear Brother’ and ‘Mrs C’ are the off-stage characters in Charles Cadogan’s letters. Charles ends each letter with his love and compliments to them. He imagines them and their neighbours back in Reading like a scene from Hogarth’s Happy Marriage, and this picture is like a beacon of home on his seven year journey. William’s letters haven’t survived but the picture he painted was an honest one.

The Dictionary of National Biography say that William always addressed Jane as ‘dear Life’, and you hear the same voice in his will, ‘And Lastly I do hereby Nominate Constitute and appoint my said Dear Wife Jane Cadogan Sole Executrix of this my Last Will and Testament.’ It is the same united  front they show in the letters when neither is keen on Charles’s plan for William to drop everything and join him on quick journey down the Rhine.

William Bromley Cadogan was famous in his day as an evangelical preacher, working in two parishes in Reading and London. Old St Giles’s Church in Reading had extra galleries built in so hundreds of people from other parishes could hear him. His sermons were published in his lifetime and a biography was written after his death. He could be fiery – he once took a book of sermons  that John Wesley had sent him into the kitchen and burnt it; no one could show him how to interpret the scriptures – but he was charitable and much-loved and busy.

He’s fully written up in the DNB. If you don’t have a subscription you can use your local library number as I do.

Wills are some of the best raw data of biography. They tell you at least something of who people were, where they lived, what they owned and who they wanted to remember and be remembered by. For many people, especially women, as we’ll see next time with Jane Cadogan, their will is the only time their voice is heard on the national record.

Even with someone as well-documented as William Bromley Cadogan, there are important new details. When he made his will in April 1789, William leaves everything to ‘my Dear Wife’, and appoints her his sole Executrix. In November that year, William adds a further witnessed note about borrowing £600 on a £1000 bond and asks if his father could pay it out of William’s future inheritance (from William’s late mother Frances Bromley; part of it he has already given to Jane for her life) and deduct the interest. In May 1792 he records Lord Cadogan’s payment of the debt in December 1790 and thanks him for this ‘fatherly Act of goodness added to Many others of the same kind.’
Interestingly the £1000 bond is between William and two other gentlemen, one of them a Rev Mr Bulkely. Later on, Charles is rather lukewarm about Bulkely’s son in Paris,  

£600 is a surprising sum for a vicar to be borrowing. This is a lot of money in the 1780s. With £600 you could buy a pair of Bond Street shoe-buckles, a year’s foreign travel (without shopping), gamble for a night in Brighton, purchase a living worth £150 a year, buy 666 sheep (in the days of wool) or pay a skilled workman for eleven years. (National Archives currency converter). William was a married 48 year old clergyman with two livings and no children.
In those days, a vicarage and its income was often in a private landowner’s gift, rather than being a church appointment. After Westminster and Christ Church, Oxford, William was appointed Vicar of St Giles’s, Reading in 1774 by Henry Bathurst, and St Luke’s Chelsea by his father Lord Cadogan in 1775. Some Eighteenth Century churchmen would’ve sat back at that point, worked one day a week and  lived the life of a country gentlemen the other six, or if they were younger sons of peers like William, used their parishes as stepping stones to becoming a bishop.

William did neither and must assume that he spent the money on good works, and the cost of commuting between Reading and Chelsea to give his sermons and cure souls. Charles assumes that William can very easily give up his parishes for three months to come and join him in Hanover. But this shuttle-preaching must’ve impressed him and when Charles writes about how difficult it is to get a ship from Constantinople, he says that ‘opportunities are not to be found to go from here to Alexandria, as you can step into the Reading Dilly to go to Chelsea.’

Religion itself rarely surfaces, thought the brothers both venerate Martin Luther. The ‘remarkable fine Picture’ of Martin Luther in the church at Wittenburg is the only painting Charles mentions in the letters. Charles’s description of the Luther’s old university lodging, and the stone Luther carved his initials in on the road to Leipzig is among his best, like watercolours by Turner.

I was surprised that Luther figured so large in the brothers’ mental landscape. I don’t know if that’s typical in Eighteenth Century English Protestants, or whether it’s a Cadogan thing. It might explain William’s own religion. He began at Reading as a bitter enemy of the Methodists, hence burning John Wesley’s sermons. The Calvinist Methodist movement was a threat to the established High Church that William represented politically. But he ended up largely embracing the Methodists because his own religion was almost identical. Wesley sent him the sermons because he thought he could win him over; William burnt them because he vowed he that he would learn the truth from scripture alone (DNB), trumping Wesley with a piece of supreme Calvinism. William published two ecstatic sermons Liberty and Equality in 1792. True believers, he says

shall be ranging at large in the bright regions of eternal day, they shall be singing hallelujahs to the Lord God omnipotent, and rejoicing in Him who hath saved them with an everlasting salvation: in a word, for ever released from shame and sorrow, and for ever crowned with glory and righteousness, they are ‘free indeed’.

They were reviewed in the Gentleman’s Magazine as ‘nothing more or less than the ranting effusions of methodistical orthodoxy.’ (DNB)

From Charles’s letters we know that William and his father made up a quarrel by April 1789. We don’t know the reason for it. Perhaps Lord Cadogan disapproved of his marriage. Charles’s supportive warmth to his brother and Mrs C from the earliest letters, and the lack of any communication between William and his father while Charles relays news might suggest this. Clearly he was overspending. If so, the reconciliation after seven years is full and heartfelt. William’s acknowledgement of Lord Cadogan’s kindness in repaying his debt with ‘Many others of the same kind’ suggests that he has been baled out more than once. William’s grandfather on his mother’s side the 1st Lord Montfort had shot himself because he spent his fortune. His uncle the 2nd Lord Montfort kept a menagerie and was crippled by debt, and his cousin the 3rd Lord Montfort later claimed a pension as a distressed peer. Lord Cadogan, a man of great financial prudence, and rarely impulsive, may have wondered if William had inherited some financial wildness from his mother’s family. He was a stern man – Charles reminds his brother that ‘My Lord and I are on very good terms together, yet I know he d’ont like to be troubled about livings etc for any body’ – but he was a loving father.

William’s will ends with its happy update in May 1792, and then with the Probate granted after his death, dated March 17th 1797, granting administration to Jane.

In December 1790 Lord Cadogan was so kind as to pay the above mentioned 660L for me to Mr May of Bingfield by which fatherly Act of goodness added to Many others of the same kind I am freed from all debts and incumbrances whatever excepting an Annuity of ten Pounds a year which I am engaged to pay to Mrs Warrand Mrs Cadogans Aunt now living in Paradise Row Chelsea for her life and also to pay her expenses for her funeral Witness my hand this 18th Day of May 1792 /-/ WB Cadogan/-/

This Will as proved at London with two Codicils the Seventeenth Day of March in the year of Our Lord One thousand Seven hundred and Ninety Seven before the Right Honourable Sir William Wynn Knight Doctor of Laws Master Keeper or Commissary of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury Lawfully Constituted by the Oath of Jane Cadogan Widow of the aforesaid Relict of the deceased and sole Executrix named in the said Will to whom administration was granted to all and Singular the Goods Chattels and Credits of the said deceased having been first Sworn by Commission duly to Administer.

It’s good to see he had enough left over to pay an annuity to his wife’s aunt, and her funeral costs. I don’t know if the next Vicar of St Giles’s bought the lease on their lodgings as he suggests, but the next incumbent was not popular. According to the History of the Parish Church of St Giles in Reading, after 22 years of listening to William Cadogan, much of his congregation left the new vicar and went off to form the St Mary Congregationalist Chapel round the corner.

Next week I’ll be looking at Jane Cadogan’s will. A very different document. If William did have a Bromley head for finance then he married well. Jane was good with money. I’ve given the wills in full underneath. If you have time there’re an amazing read. A phrase like ‘I borrowed at Midsummer 1789 of Mr William May of Bingfield Mill the sum of Six hundred Pounds at four and a half Pr. Cent Interest’ is a piece of time in words. A scene in your head like a Constable. To all and Singular the Goods Chattels and Credits of the said deceased is official jargon with the precision of machine code and the beauty of Shakespeare.

 

The Will of William Bromley Cadogan (National Archives, Kew PROB 11/1286/254)

The Honble and Revd William Bromley Cadogan Clerk

This is the last Will and Testament of me William Bromley Cadogan of Reading in the County of Berks Clerk Where as I am Possessed of some Leasehold Premises at Reading aforesaid which are usually occupied by the Vicar for the time being of Saint Giles’s Reading Now I hereby direct my Executrix here after named to sell the same for a fair and Reasonable Price to the Vicar who may succeed me of the said Parish should he be inclined to purchase the same and as to the Money arising from the Sale thereof I give the same to my said Executrix and as to all the rest and Residue of my Estate and Effects whatsoever and wheresoever I give and bequeath the same to my Dear Wife Jane Cadogan And Lastly I do hereby Nominate Constitute and appoint my said Dear Wife Jane Cadogan Sole Executrix of this my Last Will and Testament hereby Revoking all former Wills by me heretofore made In Witness whereof I the said William Bromley Cadogan have hereunto Sett my hand Seal this eleventh Day of May in the year of Our Lord 1789 /-/WB Cadogan (LS) Signed Sealed Published and Declared by the said William Bromley Cadogan as and for his last Will and Testament in the presence of us who in the presence and at the request of the said Testator and in the Presence of each other have Subscribed our Names as Witnesses hereto /-/ Joseph Baylis /-/ John Giles

Whereas by Marriage Settlement I have given to my dear Wife Jane Cadogan for her life the whole Interest of the Moity of my Mothers Fortune which was Settled upon me as will appear by the Settlement itself reserving to my self One thousand Pounds for my Own privatt Use and whereas I borrowed at Midsummer 1789 of Mr William May of Bingfield Mill the sum of Six hundred Pounds at four and a half Pr. Cent Interest and gave as Security for the same the joint Bond of myself the Revd Mr Bulkley and Mr William Simmonds Higgs at Pangbourn Land near Reading I hereby direct that the above mentioned One thousand Pounds be appropriated to the discharge and payment of the said Bond and if it should be Convenient to my dear and Honourable Father the Right Honourable Lord Cadogan to pay the said Sum of Six hundred Pounds to the aforesaid Mr May of Bingfield and take to himself the four and a half Pr Cent Interest and deduct the whole principal and Interest out of the Moiety of my Mothers Fortune which Comes to me and my Heirs at his decease, I shall reckon it a great favour added to the Many which I have Received from him Before – Reading November 10th 1789 /-/ WB Cadogan

In December 1790 Lord Cadogan was so kind as to pay the above mentioned 660L for me to Mr May of Bingfield by which fatherly Act of goodness added to Many others of the same kind I am freed from all debts and incumbrances whatever excepting an Annuity of ten Pounds a year which I am engaged to pay to Mrs Warrand Mrs Cadogans Aunt now living in Paradise Row Chelsea for her life and also to pay her expenses for her funeral Witness my hand this 18th Day of May 1792 /-/ WB Cadogan/-/

This Will as proved at London with two Codicils the Seventeenth Day of March in the year of Our Lord One thousand Seven hundred and Ninety Seven before the Right Honourable Sir William Wynn Knight Doctor of Laws Master Keeper or Commissary of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury Lawfully Constituted by the Oath of Jane Cadogan Widow of the aforesaid Relict of the deceased and sole Executrix named in the said Will to whom administration was granted to all and Singular the Goods Chattels and Credits of the said deceased having been first Sworn by Commission duly to Administer.

 

st_giles_church_old

Old St Giles’s Church, Reading (c) Nash Publishing from Berkshirehistory.com

 

 

 

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