The inventory of Dublin merchant Patrick Hegley is an unusual example of an English probate inventory; lacking as it does any household goods or furnishings. Instead, this inventory records just the personal belongings and merchandise which Patrick had in his possession when he died away from his home. This document offers an intriguing insight into the relative lack of objects which a merchant may have traveled with and the types of merchandise which they might have purchased and exchanged.
Patrick Hegley’s will (TNA PROB 11/10/99), made on the 23rd of December 1493 shortly before his death, reveals that he became seriously ill on a trip to London. One of the bequests in this will is £ 6 13 s. and 4 d. to a Robert Walsh for “the kindness and love that [Patrick] found with him in the time of [his] sickness.” He also requests to be buried in London’s Black Friars in front of an image of his namesake Saint Patrick in the event he should die in London before returning home to Ireland. The production of an inventory and the proving of this will shows that Patrick had been prudent in planning for this eventuality: he seemingly died in London at sometime between the 23rd of December 1493 and the 23rd of January 1494.
The objects in this inventory are arranged into two sections. The first records goods in the keeping of Patrick’s executor, the London tailor Richard Conell, and includes drugs and spices recently bought in London, haberdashery-ware, bonnets, broken silver, and money. Whilst the drugs and spices were bought in London, the haberdashery and bonnets may well have been brought by Patrick from Ireland to sell in the capital. Another section which records debts includes an entry for 50 s. owed to Patrick by one William Richmond for eight fine cloaks, suggesting that Patrick had brought clothing and garments to sell. That these goods plus a large amount of money, just over £41, were still in Patrick's possession when he died indicates that his trip was cut short by his illness.
The second section records a horse, a sword, and one set of clothing; which we might reasonably conclude were the clothes which Patrick had travelled to London in and was wearing at the time of his death. This outfit was comprised of a red overcoat, hat, and jacket, a leather doublet, two shirts, black stockings, a pair of thin shoes called pinsons, a pair of indoor shoes called slippargers, and a purse. This inventory reveals that Patrick appears to have traveled light, bringing only some merchandise for sale in London and the clothes which he was wearing.