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Edmund Dumville (c1701-1762)
Hat Maker


Written by Dr. James C. Dumville, Ph.D.
Dated 1 August 1978

Edmund Dumbile was a hatmaker in Olney, a town in north Buckinghamshire, in the middle 1700s. Nothing is known of his parentage or birthplace. The earliest record available on Edmund comes from the Olney Parish Registers (1665-1812). An entry on November 30, 1731 has the christening of "John Dumbile, the son of Edmund", and later, a christening of "Elianor, daughter of Edmund and Sarah Dumbile" on April 12, 1734. There is no further record of Elianor and some confusion over John, as mentioned in a subsequent paragraph.

Edmund's first wife Sarah was buried on June 18, 1736 at Olney. Edmund married his second wife Ann Turner on February 21, 1736. In these times, 25 March was the beginning of the year, as opposed to our present system of beginning the year on 1 January. Therefore Edmund's marriage to Ann on February 21, 1736, by our January to December calendar, would have been February 21, 1737, eight months after Sarah's funeral.

Edmund had two sons named John; one by Sarah, christened November 30, 1731; and one by Ann, christened October 15, 1740. Later entries in the parish registers have a christening on January 2, 1772 of "John Winter, son of John and Mary Dumville", and a burial of "John Dumvile at Lady Day" on October 1, 1797. Since the births of the two Johns were only nine years apart, it is not possible to determine soley from the registers which John had married Mary, nor which had died in 1797. We can assume that the first John had died in childhood because it would be unlikely for Edmund to have two sons named John at the same time; however, until other data becomes available, this must remain an assumption. In any case, John Winter went on to marry a Mary Perry on Lady Day, February 28, 1797 (this date of the 28th verified from original parish records) and was included in the returns of Posse Comitatus for Buckinghamshire in 1798. He was listed as a watchmaker in these returns.

Edmund's surname is variously spelt Dumbile, Dumvile and Dumville. Dumbile on the christening of John (first son), Elianor, Edmund and John (second son). Dumvile on the burials of Sarah and son Thomas, the marriage to Ann, the christenings of Elizabeth and Thomas Churchman and on his will of 1762. Dumville first appears with the christening of his son, James, on July 4, 1744, and except for the christening of Thomas Churchman and on his will, the spelling continues as Dumville through subsequent entries in the parish records; and, in fact, through subsequent generations of Dumvilles both in England and America. This variation in spelling can be somewhat explained by the fact that Edmund was illiterate, as evidenced from his mark at the bottom of his will which he executed on April 23, 1762, twelve days before his funeral.

From his will, he appears to be a religious man. In a moving phrase, he commends his soul to God who gave it and his body to the earth from which it came. He expressed a desire to be buried in a plain manner. He left his house and his stock and goods to his wife Ann to pay his creditors as far as they would go. On September 30, 1762, after his death, the surrogate attests that his stock and goods did not amount to £20 in value. There was no mention of his children in his will. His first son by his second marriage, Edmund Dumville (nee Dumbile) went on to become a successful lace merchant in Olney in the last half of the 1700s

Last Will and Testament

In the Name of God Amen

I Edmund Dumvile of Olney in the County of Bucks Hattmaker Being Very ill in Body But of sound mind memory and understanding do make this my Last Will and Testament as folowing that is to say First and prinseply I Commend my Soul to God who give it and my Body to the Earth from wence it Was taken to be buried in a plain maner By the Discretion of my wife Ann I give to my Loveing wife Ann Dumvile this House I now live in and All my Stock and goods to pay my Credoters as far as it will Do: free from any of my Children also I chose my Loveing Wife Sole Executrix of this my Last Will and Testament and Do Ratefy and confarm this as and for My Last Will and Testement in witness where unto I have set my hand and Seal this twenty third of April 1762 Sined Seled and Delivered as my Last Will and Testement in the presence of us who have here unto Subcribed our names in the presence of him and Each other

The Mark of Edmund Dumvile
William Banister
Ann Blackburn
Sarah Woodland
3Oth Sept 1762 Sworn the executrix above named
and that the Goods Ec. do not amount to 2O£
No invy     before me     Jos Bell Sur.

Probate Declaration

Proved the 3Oth September 1762 before the Revd Joseph Bell Clerk Surrogate by the Oath of Ann Dumvile Widow relict & Sole Executrix to whom Adcon was committed who being first sworn duly to administors


invy: inventory
Sur.: Surrogate
widow relict: left over from the marriage
Adcon: Administracion (sic)
The Last Will and Testament and the Probate Declaration were transcribed by Dr. James C. Dumville, Ph.D.

Comments on the Will by Sue McLaughlin of the Buckinghamshire Family History Society
in a letter dated 17 December 1978 to Jim Dumville

Edmund Dumville's will of 1762 is a standard one obviously written by some friend with some basic knowledge of legal forms and less than that of spelling. The formula is standard with the conventional religious phrases, since at that time wills were proved in the Bishop's court, and it does not imply that he was personally religious by inclination. He leaves his house and all his stock in trade to his wife Ann, who is charged with the normal duty of paying his outstanding debts to the grocer, the supplier of felt etc. It does not prove he was poor because he uses the phrase 'creditors'. The only departure from standard usage is that he leaves his property to Ann unconditionally. A more normal will would have left her his property for life only, limited to the period while she remained his widow. Remarriage would have meant that all Edmund left would belong to a new husband who could waste it or leave it away from her and certainly from the Dumville children. Note that Edmund specifically says that the bequest to Ann is 'free from any of my children' meaning that there is to be no interference with her possession of home and business and no reversion of the property to them after her death is secured. In normal circumstances, the children could upset this will if no provision had been made. It seems likely that he had already handed out their share to the sons as they reached twenty-one, setting them up in business and maybe buying them houses, so that they had no further claim on the estate. The sum of £20 given as the value of Edmund's property is strictly for the stock in trade and house furniture and furnishings, not for the house since real estate was not included in the valuation. The idea was that goods and other perishables came from God (i.e. were under control of the Bishop) whereas houses and land were from the King (so under control of the manorial court). The chief house and all copyhold land would go automatically to the eldest son and freeholders transferred by deeds and disposition may have been made some time before of other houses/property to the younger sons, while the daughter would have a secured dowry. Probably Edmund had handed over his chief house already to Edmund and was living in a smaller property with Ann and this is what he left her. The amount of stock at £20 is not ridiculously small, but not large; and suggests a prior division with a son.

Comments on the Probate Declaration by Sue McLaughlin of the Buckinghamshire Family History Society
in the letter dated 17 December 1978 to Jim Dumville

No inventory or list of the property was submitted, as should have been done but they didn't bother to nag Ann for it trusting her estimate. Could be it was wrong deliberately, to avoid tax.

See also:

Edmund Dumville (c1701-1762): First Marriage

Edmund Dumville (c1701-1762): Second Marriage

Edmund Dumville (1738-1811): Lace Merchant