April 2023

Gloucestershire Heritage Hub

Document of the Month

 Gloucestershire Archives GDR/INV/1732/118

Among the most fascinating documents in our collections are the inventories taken after a person’s death.  Made between 1530 and 1782, these are lists of personal possessions belonging to the deceased (excepting land and property) made to establish the value of their estate.  They typically list personal items, furniture, furnishings and clothing, cash, debts owing or owed, crops, livestock and tools of trade – providing real ‘flesh on the bones’ for historians.  

This is the inventory of John Pierce of Newnham, made in February 1732.  It lists his clothes (‘wearing apparel’), money in his purse, four feather beds and bedsteads, four rugs, three pairs of blankets, twelve pairs of sheets, three tablecloths, one silver tankard, two silver spoons, three gold rings, tables, a chest, his brass & pewter (sadly not itemised), three fire grates and four spits, three pairs of hand-irons, two fire slices (coal shovels), two pairs of tongs and a jack (probably a thick hide glove), a clock, one small boat, two dozen chairs (chains), two bellows and lastly ‘goods forgotten’ and debts due.  All this was estimated to be worth £175 5s – around £20,650 today. 

The background to this particular inventory is that Pierce was the master and owner of the Severn trow New Newnham and drowned along with 18 passengers when she was wrecked at Awre in 1731, a reminder of how dangerous the Severn was (and still is). 

John Putley - Community Heritage Officer


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