Asher Humphries will make an appearance in Book 3 of the James Blakiston Series (A Just and Upright Man is Book 1). Asher was born about 1711 and died before 1777; he crammed a lot into those sixty-odd years including two wives and at least three children. Asher wrote his will in 1776 but Administration was not granted until 1792, after the death of his widow, Sarah. He gives the usual instructions about payment of any debts he may leave behind; after that, “I give and bequeath all my Goods, Chattels and Personal Estate whatsoever to my dear wife, Sarah, during her life and after her decease, I give and bequeath the same, or such part thereof as will be undisposed of unto my three children Ann, Charles and Asher, equally to be divided between them.”
What the writer in me finds interesting about this is that one of those three children who split the inheritance equally was illegitimate and in the eighteenth century a rich man’s bastards did not always fare as well as Charles did. (The fact that Asher later married Charles’s mother may have helped, but at that time you didn’t stop being a bastard just because your parents had married after you were born).
What alerted me to Charles’s illegitimacy was the following Bastardy Bond:
Know all men by these presents that I Asher Humphreys of Titchfield in the County of South’Ton Gentleman am held and firmly bound to Frances Lunn, Jospeh Taylor & James Whottam Churchwardens of the parish of Titchfield aforesaid & to James Cooper, Edward Monday & John Whottam Overseers of the Poor of the said Parish in One hundred pounds of lawful money of great Britain to be paid to them the said Churwardens & Overseers of the Poor or their successors To which payment well and truly to be made I bind myself my heirs executors & administrators firmly by these presents sealed with my seal, dated the fourteenth day of January in the fifth year of the reign of our sovereign Lord King George the third and in the year of our Lord 1765.
The Condition of this obligation is such that if the above bounden Asher Humphreys his heirs assigns or administrators do and shall from time to time and shall times hereafter save harmless and keep indemnified the above named Church wardens and Overseers of the Poor and their successors and all and every the Parishioners and Inhabitants of this Parish of Titchfield above mentioned from all costs charges and trouble whatsoever of maintaining and educating the natural son of the said Asher Humphreys named Charles aged two years and upwards which he hath by Sarah Lock and from all suits claims and demands whatsoever relating to his said Son, then this Obligation shall be void, otherwise the same shall remain in full force and virtue.
Asher Humphreys <SEAL>
Charles was born in 1765. It seems almost unbelievable now that in 1777—at the age of 12—he was articled as a clerk with the intention that he should become a lawyer; but here are the Articles of Clerkship:
Asher Humphreys junior also became a lawyer; in fact, when his time came, he was articled to Charles who was by then an Attorney at the King’s Bench, so the family relationship between legitimate and illegitimate heir seems to have been warm enough. Junior’s life, too, has all it needs to make a book—and his daughter, Elizabeth, married into the Attride family. The Attrides were a rum lot indeed; I’ll deal with them another time.
Read more Invisible Lives here.