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John & Frances West Family Group

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John & Frances West

John WEST was baptised on the 1st of November 1641 at St. Mary the Virgin, Twickenham. He was the son of Simon (Symon) and Elizabeth nee STARE (or STAIR). The parish registers there also show that Simon was baptised on the 13th November 1614 and was the son of Edward WEST.

Simon WEST was a stationer, apprenticed to John BULL on 2nd November 1629 and "made free by servitude" 6th February 1636/7. He married Anne KEANE by license on 25th May 1637. He became a bookseller at the sign of the Blackamore's Head, Great Wood Street, Cheapside.

In 1647 he published a book on shorthand writing entitled "Arts improvement or short and swift writing". A copy of this is available to members only, at a charge. Simon was also churchwarden of St. Peter's, Westcheap in 1662 and 1663. In 1664 he paid for a vault in the church, we can only guess it was for his wife as he subsequently married Elizabeth STARE. Records are very scarce for this church between circa 1599 and 1812 as most were destroyed during W.W.II. Simon married for a third time on 26th February 1677 at All Hallows, London Wall to Eleanor EATON. Simon died intestate in 1679.

"Arts improvement or short and swift writing" - written by Simon West 1647

Frances SEAKES or SAKES was born circa 1643, place unknown. Her ancestors include Sir Robert Belknap, (d.1399), a Chief Justice of the Common Pleas during the troubled reign of Richard II; Sir Richard Chokke, (d.1483), a Judge of the Common Pleas; the Cox family who were Mayors in Newbury and even Oliver Cromwell (though very distantly and by marriage!).

Her first husband was Robert MICKELL, a scrivener, who died 17th September 1665 a victim of the Great Plague. The registers of St. Christopher-Le-Stockes Church in London note that he was buried there on the 25th of September 1665. This church lays claim to being the first rebuilt after the Great Fire in 1666 as it was completed in 1671.

John WEST married the widowed Mrs. MICKELL by license in the church of St. Gregory-by-St.Pauls on the 21st February 1666, when he was strictly still an apprentice. They lived near Stocks Market, which was on the site of the present day Mansion House.

John was apprenticed to John PARREY, a member of the The Clothworkers Company for eight years on the 14th September 1658. He finished his clothworker's apprenticeship on the 6th March 1666. On the 23rd July 1673 he received the Livery of the Clothworker's Company and in 1707 he was made a Master of the Clothworker's Company.

John WEST became an eminent City of London scrivener. A scrivener, according to the Oxford English Reference Dictionary (2nd edition), is

1. A copyist or drafter of documents.

2. A notary - a person authorised to perform legal formalities

3. A broker.

4. A moneylender.

He was a deputy Alderman (co-opted member of borough council and next in dignity to Mayor) for the Ward of Wallbrook in 1701 and again from 1713 until his death in 1723. He was also a Governor of Christ's Hospital.

Amongst John's known friends and associates were:

- Sir John MOORE - President of Christ's Hospital (1684 - 1702) and Lord Mayor Of London (1681-2)

- Samuel Pepys. (1633 - 1703) - Diarist (1660-9) and Naval Administrator.

John WEST was one of four witnesses to PEPYS' will and two codicils in 1703. He attended his funeral and as his scrivener was presented with a 15s. ring to mark the occasion, as were his goldsmith and his bookbinder. PEPYS' bequests also included "In plate - to Mr. WEST, some small piece". This was realised in the form of a large pair of tumblers weighing over 23oz.

John WEST is believed to have died on the 29th November 1723 and was certainly buried on the 5th December 1723, aged 82, in St. Christopher-Le-Stocks Church. John WESTs will is dated 2nd March 1688 and codicils dated 18th September 1706; 19th June 1716; 7th October 1717; 9th January 1719/20 and 8th June 1721.

His obituary reads "1723 Nov. 29 - dy'd John West, Esq., deputy Alderman of Wallbrook Ward, an eminent Money-Scrivener".

Frances WEST is believed to have died on the 19th January 1725 and was certainly buried in the same church on the 27th January. Her will is dated 28th December 1723 and codicils dated 24th March 1723/4; 9th May 1724; 2nd July 1724 and 12th November 1724.

In 1780, the church, crypt and churchyard of St. Christopher-Le-Stockes were cleared to make way for the extension to the Bank Of England buildings. The bones of those buried there including our ancestors where re-interred in Nunhead Cemetery, South London. A ledger stone marks the place near the South Wing of the Eastern Catacomb.

Unfortunately no contemproary memorials to John and Frances survive. The Group organised one at Christ's Hospital which was placed in the cloisters at the school in 1995. Members of the Group have located the long lost pulpit from the St. Christopher's in the little parish church in Canewdon in Essex.

The east end of St. Christopher-Le-Stockes is said to have contained "100 fine dwelling houses". The WESTs owned 7 of them along with 2 yards, all close to the church of which they were benefactors. In accordance with her husband's and her own wishes in their wills and codicils, in December 1723, the widowed Frances gave properties in Ludgate Hill, Cannon Street and Walbrook to a body of trustees for specified charitable purposes after her death. However, upon her death, the named trustees refused to accept the trust and in 1736 and 1754, decrees of the Court Of Chancery gave effect to her alternative direction. This was to appoint The Clothworkers Company to act as trustees..

Samuel PEPYS was appointed a Governor of Christ's Hospital in 1676 and to the school's Mathematics Commitee. John WEST was a Governor at Christ's Hospital as well.

Among the charitable provisions of the West Trust was the payment of pensions to poor persons, with preference for the poor kin of John and Frances WEST. It was once loosely known as the "West Relation Trust". These pensions were initially paid by the Clothworkers' Company and latterly through their Clothworkers' Foundation, from the West Relief in Need charity, established on 14th April, 1978. This being one of a succession of Charity Commission schemes. Then in 1984 the responsibility for such payments was transferred to the Trustees of Christ's Hospital, who already administered a similar but larger Charity under which the kin of John and Frances WEST might benefit for school places.

General enquirers and all prospective applicants for pensions should contact the Trustees of Christ's Hospital, who keep important West records at the school, at Horsham, West Sussex, RH13 0YP.