Daily (?) Captain Cox–“Julian of Brainford’s Testament”

Pedigree:      Furnivall cites two known printings of  “Jyl of Breyntford’s testament”,   both printed by William Copland, dated (estimate) to the mid-1560’s.     This is another poetic work by Robert Copland, William’s father or brother.

Synopsis:     This is a satirical “last will and testament”, one of apparently a number of such wills/testaments published in the sixteenth century.     Jyl / Julian is an aging alewife,   who presents her will and at the same time express her…opinions about kinds of people she finds wicked or foolish.      The series of bequests reads a bit like The Frantics’ comedy sketch “Last Will and Temperament”, in which each member of the departed’s family is left…a boot to the head (immediately bestowed).      Jyl leaves each “beneficiary”  a fart.

No, I’m not kidding.

Twenty-five (and a half) farts.

Like “Hye Way To The Spitl-House”,   one value of this rough verse with its cruder topics and language, is to provide a glimpse into a different side of sixteenth-century life than that recorded by, say, Hall’s Chronicle or Laneham’s letter itself,   which recorded Captain Cox’s library / repertoire.

Availability:   Since, at the time Frederick Furnivall published “Captain Cox”, there was no contemporary transcription known,    Furnivall transcribed and published “Jyl of Breyntfords Testament” (along with another such “satirical last will and testament”) himself, in 1871.      Google books has an online copy (which can be downloaded) here:


In case readers have never heard the modern sketch in question, I’m including a link to it here.    Finding this trope in a 16th century jestbook afforded me the kind of demented, giggly, unholy glee which keeps me digging through primary sources:



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