02 January 2024
A Woman of Wealth


Affluent Lady of Neath


The photograph above is of a silver flagon that was donated to St. Thomas' Church about 1745.  It is used to hold communion wine before it is introduced into the chalice for blessing and serving to the congregation.  It is inscribed as the 'Gift of H Hawkins alias H Wilkins' and the lid has the words ‘Neath’. It was made by London silversmith, Henry Brind  in 1744-45.

To make such a gift is an indication that Hester Hawkins/Wilkins, a twice married widow was a woman of considerable wealth.  Her first husband had been Thomas Hawkins (Steward of Mackworth Works, Melincrythan), the second being Thomas Wilkins (Clerk of Assize, Llanblethian).

Hester died just two years after donating the flagon in 1747 and is buried at St. Thomas’. She was considered a kind person.

There are two interesting documents that exist regarding her.  The first is her funeral instructions and the second a record of her finacial status.

The second document was a lot more difficult to decipher;

Transcript of Hester Wilkins - ‘worth’

October 18th - St. Luke’s Day 1744

My whole worth this Day

18 Whole Johns is sixty four 16                                    - 64-16-00

22 Twenty Two half Johns is                                         - 39-16-00

52 Guineas is                                                                    - 52-10-00


This is sewed up in flanen [flannel]                               -17-02-00


A hundred & fifty seven 2s                     

80 guineas not 90 in ye Red Bags is                              157-02-00

90 ninety Guineas which is                                               94-10-00

I took out of this 10 Guineas                                        [???]-12-0


I have in Bonds from Many the same                             251-12-0

of a hundred & seventy five pounds                               125-12-0

and for present use this money that is                             03-02-00

in flanen [flannel] & Bags is                                              379-14- 00

in a Copper pot under the Iron in ye seller [celler] next ye Kitchen

I took this copper pot away

& put all in a Box tis now behinde

the Berrell [barrel] number Eleven

& under by ye end of seven

This is in ye Box

Mrs Savours Bond

K Mack [Kingsmill Mackworth] Bond

H Mack [Herbert/Humphrey Mackworth] bond

A Mack [Ann Mackworth] Bond                                                                                                                                

I am to have my rents from Henton  


I researched the connection of the word ‘John’ in monetary terms which led me to John Law a Scottish-French economist who distinguished money, a means of exchange, from national wealth dependent on trade. He seems to have been the man who introduced paper money. So, was a ‘john’ a form of paper money that connected to a banking house -- interesting!

Doing some sums, a John is 72s, or £6 12s (if you go by the full Johns amount) or a little more than that if you go by the half Johns.


With thanks to Robert Davies (NAS) and Andrew Dulley (WGAS) for assisting with the transcription.


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