By F. Bastian (auth.)
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Additional info for Defoe’s Early Life
The Steward of the Manor, Sir Edward Thurland, or his clerk, who thus incorrectly styled Defoe's father 'gentleman', must have been recording the impression he made on the Court. 6 His problems in administering the Marsh estate included involvement in a Chancery case in 16 73, concerning a house in Chancery Lane on which Lawrence Marsh had ten years before advanced money on mortgage. 7 That Alice Foe was now dead seems likely from the fact that the four Marsh boys did not actually join the Foe household.
38 James Foe must have shared in the national resilience and prosperity; and his son found an endless source of interest in the renewed bustle of the City. 'Two or three Years after the Plague was ceas'd', about 1668 or 1669, when building was in progress at the upper end of Hand Alley in Bishopsgate Street, the workmen digging the foundations stumbled on the site of a plague pit, some of the bodies 'remaining so plain to be seen, that the Womens Sculls were distinguish'd by their long Hair, and of others, the Flesh was not quite perished'.
Though only in his middle forties, he must have lain physically helpless, perhaps after a stroke, for the best part of a year. He left no written will; but the probate court accepted instead a memorandum to the effect that about 19 April 1674, when 'sick of the sickness whereof he died', he had by word of mouth appointed his brother James Foe as his executor and sole heir. 43 This inheritance, whatever it may have amounted to, does not seem to have been enough to induce Defoe's father to alter his way of life, for he continued to live and trade quietly in French Court.