Braughing. William Bonest

Colin Wilson

William Bonest made his will on 30th October 1612, and it was proved at London on 30th January 1612. This is no error. At that time, and until 1752, the Julian calendar was in force in England. The year ran from March to March, starting on 25th. This is also known as Lady Day, one of the quarter days when traditionally rents are due.

William’s surname is variously spelt as Bowness, Bownest (as in his will) and Bonest. He was born in about 1561 at Little Hormead, married Johane when they were both age 18, and died about the age of 53.

In his will he left a house in Overbury (otherwise Oldbury or Oldburies) in which four poor widows could live. Victoria County History adds the widows lived there rent free. As yet I haven’t precisely located the place. Overbury, near Tewkesbury, seems unlikely, bit a reference has been found to Oldburies in Harlow, now part of Parndon Wood. A charge of twenty shillings, or £1, a year, the income from land called Dassal Field, in the parish of Braughing between Little Hormead and Braughing, was provided. Sometimes this money was distributed among the widows, sometimes it was used for repairs to the house.

There are multiple references in the Braughing parish minutes to the Bonest fund and the widows’ house. The payment is consistently £1. There do not seem to be other notes about them. Later the charity was registered with the Charity Commission (ref 208916), but was removed in 2009 as it no longer operated.


History of Hertfordshire, by John Edwin Cussans
Vol 1 Hundred of Braughing Page 201
Originally published Stephen Austin & Sons 1870-81. Republished E P Publishing in collaboration with Hertfordshire County Library 1972

Hertfordshire – a Caring County? Ed Stephen King and Gillian Gear
Page 105
Pub Hertfordshire University Press 2013 ISBN 978-1-909291-12-6 (Note: this book is a collection of articles)

The Victoria County History of the County of Hertford ed. William Page
Vol 3 page 316
Issued Archibald Constable & Co. 1912. Reprint by Dawsons of Pall Mall 1971 (ISBN 0 7129 0477 8)
Available online at Site accessed June 2019

Braughing Parish Council minutes can be viewed on-line at the Braughing Local History Society at and (site accessed Jun 2019)

Charity Commission website:
Site accessed June 2019

CCP/51/25/1 (document held at HALS). Title deeds of charity properties refers to a parcel of land called Oldburies (6a, 3r)  ……….  in Great Parndon, Essex.

This page was added on 22/06/2019.

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