Reflections on Some Gower Wills By R.L.T. Lucas The National Library at Aberystwyth holds a fine collection of Gower wills dating back to the later years of Queen Elizabeth I. These old papers and parchments, some beautifully engrossed in a fair round hand, others crabbed and blotted, provide a field where genealogists may browse happily. The names and dates and relationships are pretty sure to be accurate and as an added bonus it was the custom at least until the second half of the seventeenth century to refer to wives by their maiden names; useful information for the compiler of family pedigrees. But there is much more in these wills than the dry lawyers' stuff which might be expected. Dating from a time when not many Gower folk could read or write and personal records are sparse, wills and the inventories which accompany them afford fascinating glimp- ses into the barns and stables and houses and sometimes into the minds of our remoter ancestors. It is difficult to generalise on the subject of wills. As a learned Chancery Judge remarked in 1697 'Every Will stands on its own Bottom and is Various as any Thing Whatsoever.' The examples which follow are taken from the records of eighteenth century Lucases living at old Stouthall (which was pulled down when the present house was built in about 1790) and in the surrounding villages. In those days, and indeed until the middle of the nineteenth century, Probate of wills and the administration of deceased persons' estates was in the hands of the Church, and most Gower wills were 'proved' at the Archeaconry Court at Carmarthen, Gower then being in the See of St David's. Seventeenth century Gower farmers were prosperous. Their wealth was in their land, their farm stock and their household possessions and the amount of money in circulation was probably small. Will making seems to have been usually put off until the testator was on the point of death and it is likely that the actual writing was done more often by the parson than by a lawyer. The testator signed, if he could, or made his mark, usually a shaky cross or squiggle, and the will was witnessed by two or three of his literate neighbours. With the Church so closely involved it is hardly surprising that the will had religious significance. The words are often