Elizabeth Holdsworth invites Mr Windle, the commissioner of oaths, to join her in her carriage. They leave behind the neighbours’ fine houses along Cable Street and head towards the market gardens of Stepney. It is 1796 and time to make a new will. She is determined to deny her older son his inheritance now he has made the same silly mistake she had, by marrying young to someone so unsuitable.
They are heading now to the house she had built for her second son, one of a terrace of tall houses on the wide avenue that dissects Mile End, so that he may witness the will. In the carriage they discuss Mr Reveley’s novel proposal to straighten the Thames and the effect it may have on their fortunes.
The carriage rattles along the muddy paths past the ancient church of St Dunstan’s, where all of her children were christened, and some buried, which prompts her again to think of the will, safely in the hands of Mr W. There are rumours that highwaymen still lurk here. The road is pitted with the tracks of carts so that they are jerked from side to side and her thoughts interrupted. The driver asks if he may stop the carriage. He is worried by the sound of the axle creaking…
This is a fictional account inspired by surfing the web and finding a copy of Elizabeth Holdsworth’s will in Martin Robb’s blog Past Lives: Rescuing my Family History (https://mprobb.wordpress.com)
Mr Reveley’s proposals would have made a huge difference to the Isle of Dogs had they been carried out. Read more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willey_Reveley
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