Saturday, 31 January 2015

Where There's A Will

Wills of ancestors and relatives are such a fantastic resource in genealogy. They often let you in on the personal thoughts of a relative, and just how they wanted their belongings and assets to be shared out. 

Below are a few extracts from some of my own ancestor's wills. 
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Ephraim Johnson who died in 1700, bequeathed to all of his grandsons:

"twenty shillings for a token

As might be obvious, Ephraim was quite a rich man. Ephraim also bequeaths "his Soul unto God", as is quite common for the time. 

Ephraim Johnson's signature.
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One of Ephraim Johnson's grandsons was named Ephraim Potts, and he was also a wealthy man. He died in 1772 and in his will Ephraim bequeathed £50 to his spinster daughter, Mary and £20 to his widowed daughter Jane. Ephraim gave Jane's sons £30 each, to be paid to them when they reached the age of twenty-one. Until then he gave £5 to be put towards the "better maintenance & Education" of Jane's boys. 

Ephraim Potts also asked that his "Funeral be as private as possible." 

The mark of Ephraim Potts, along with seal.
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Almost two centuries later, Ann Jane Storey Taylor, died in 1890. Ann Jane, a native of Newbiggin-by-the-Sea had married Bartholomew Taylor of Cullercoats only four years before. They had no children.

 In her will, Ann Jane bequeaths everything, her property and land to her husband, Bartholomew, "as long as He remains a Widower." The latter is stated no more than three times! Bartholomew however did marry again, so his late wife's estate was shared amongst her three brothers and her sister. Ann Jane's last bequest is that her:

"china that belonged to [her] mother decease be given to [her] brother Adam Storey"


Ann Jane Taylor's signature.
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Often however, you come across some less exciting wills without much insight into an ancestor. My 2x great-grandmother, Jane Mavin Storey who died in 1931 made a will just like this.

"I DEVISE AND BEQUEATH all my Real and Personal Estates absolutely to my Dear Husband Adam Storey." 

That was more or less her entire will in whole.



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Her beloved husband Adam Storey (the Grand Old Man), however made a will which was quite a bit more compelling. He bequeathed bed linen, money, land and even houses to his six children. Adam wrote his will himself, so naturally for someone born in the 1850s there were some spelling mistakes. His last bequest is to one of his grandsons:

"my peania" - a fantastic take on 'piano' from an elderly Northumbrian! 



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