Monday, February 8, 2010

Amanuensis Monday - Shubael Seaver's estate distribution

Genea-blogger John Newmark (who writes the excellent TransylvanianDutch blog) started his own Monday theme several months ago called Amanuensis Monday. I loved the idea, and recently decided to follow it in order to share ancestral information and keep the theme going, and perhaps it will expand to other genealogy bloggers.

What does "amanuensis" mean? John offers this definition:

"A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another."

After my last post in this series, reader Geolover commented that:

"Amanuensis is used most often for a person who writes for/about/with? one person, such as a philosopher's acolyte. A person who writes down documents from verbal accounts or from a combination of verbal and written items (usually for a fee) was a Scrivener.

"This occupation can be found in deeds and wills, but hardly at all in US Federal Census enumerations, as more persons became literate in 19th century USA.

"One of the witnesses to a deed or will often was the scrivener."

The Wikipedia definition for Scrivener agrees with Geolover's comment. But I'm not doing this for pay, or in an official government capacity. I'm doing it for myself, and to help other researchers understand what resources might be available in different repositories to help them in their research. If I were doing this for a paying client, then I would probably be "Scrivener Seaver." It seems that neither "amanuensis" or "scrivener" describes transcriptions of documents not made for government or profit! So maybe this should be Transcription Monday, but that's not alliterative like most of our day-based blogging themes are.

Onward to this week's transcription.

I found that there were no probate papers filed for my 9th great-grandfather, Shubael Seaver (1640-1730) of Roxbury, Massachusetts Bay Colony, the eldest son of Robert and Elizabeth (Ballard) Seaver, the immigrants in 1634 and (probably 1633, respectively. However, a search of the Suffolk County MA Deed records produced records described by:

Shubael Seaver did not write a will, nor was his estate probated. Shortly before his death (he died on 18 January 1729/30 in Roxbury), he requested Edmund Weld Jr. to hold his lands in trust for his children, to be divided after his death. Edmund Weld Jr. paid 5 shillings to receive the trust (Suffolk County (MA) Deeds 44:45, accessed on FHL Microfilm 0,493,949). The details in this indenture are identical to those in the settlement of the estate (Suffolk County (MA) Deeds 49:235, accessed on FHL Microfilm 0,493,951), and read:

"Whereas our Honoured Father Shubael Seaver late of Roxbury in the County of Suffolk in New England Wheelwright Deceased did in an Instrument under his Hand and Seal duly Executed bearing Date the Third Day of January 1729/30 amongst other things and Uses Order that after his the Said Seaver's decease his real Estate should be disposed of to and for the Use of his two Sons Joseph and Shubael Seaver and his three Daughters Hannah Grigory Abigail Cole and Thankful More them and their heirs forever part and part alike save only a double part & portion to the said Joseph Seaver to be divided as the Law of the province directs and appoints. Agreeable to which we the Subscribers & Children to the said deceased have mutually agreed and by these presents do agree to the Settlement of the said Estate as follows viz.

"Impr. Agreed that our Brother Joseph Seaver shall have and hold all the Mansion or Dwelling House Messuage & Garden and part of the Orchard containing about One Acre & an half as now marked out lying in Roxbury aforesd bounded South Easterly on the Country Road leading towards Dedham and North Easterly on Land lately sold to Mr. Davis by Samuel Gore with the Barn on the other side of the Highway against the said house and the land thereunto belonging bounded on the said Country Road Northwesterly and on Land belonging to our Brother Edmund Cole North Easterly and South Easterly And also the One full half part of the Salt Marsh lying at a place in said Rox'y called the Island containing on the whole about Two Acres bounded on the Creek Southerly & Westerly &c. All which to be to him said Joseph Seaver his Heirs & assigns forever.

"2ly. Agreed that our sister Hannah Griggory shall have and hold the remaining Part of the House Lot of Orchard Land containing about four acres and an half in Roxbury aforesd and Bounded North Easterly partly on the land aforesd set off to said Joseph Seaver and partly on Land sold by said Samuel Gore to Mr. Davis South Easterly on the sd Country Road and partly on George Laucklin's Land and Northwesterly on Capt Jos'h Mayo's Land all which said Land to be to the sd Hannah Grigory and her Heirs forever.

"3ly. Agreed that our Sister Abigail Cole shall have and hold part of the Pasture Land lying on the said Country Road in Roxbury aforesaid Northerly and at the further Side of it next to Mr. Abbot's Land called Whortleberry Hill and bounded Westerly on said Land and to extend into the said Pasture Land so as to make about five Acres as the same is now staked out and divided from the Remainder thereof All which said part of the Pasture Land to be to the said Abigail Cole her Heirs and Assigns forever Said Land is bound Southerly on Isaac Curtis's Land.

"4ly. Agreed that our Brother Shubael Seaver and Sister Thankful More shall have and hold the remaining part of the said Pasture Land being about Ten Acres Bounded Northerly on the Said Country Road and Easterly on Land belonging to the Heirs of William Abbot Deceased Southerly on Isaac Curtis's Land and Westerly on Land of Sister Cole the said Ten Acres of Pasture Land to be equally divided between them And to be to them the said Shubael Seaver and Thankful More and their Heirs forever.

"And further it is agreed that our said Brother Shubael Seaver shall have and hold the One full half being the remaining part of the Salt Marsh on the Island aforesd in Roxbury and bounded on the Creek Southerly and Westerly &c to him the said Shubael Seaver his Heirs and Assigns forever.

"And further as Touching and Concerning the personal Estate out of the good Will and Affection that we bear to our Sister Hannah Griggory give the same to her and her Heirs and Assigns And therefore do further agree to pay all the Debts that do or shall appear due from our said Father equally between us.

"In Witness whereof we the said Joseph Seaver and Patrick Grigory and Hannah his wife Edmund Cole and Abigail his Wife Shubael Seaver & Richard More and Thankful his Wife have hereunto put their Hands and Seals the thirteenth Day of March in the Third Year of his Majestie's Reign Annoque Domino 1729/30. Joseph Sever & a seal Patrick 'G' Griggory his mark & a Seal Hannah 'G' Griggory her mark & a seal Edmund Cole & a Seal Abigail '#' Cole her mark & a seal Shubael Seaver & a seal Richard More & a seal. Signed Sealed and Delivered in presence of us Ebenezer Newell Joseph Ruggles Ebenezer Pierpont

"Suffolk Ss Roxbury Apr. 6th 1730. Joseph Seaver Hannah Griggory Abigail Cole and Shubael Seaver appearing before me the subscribers acknowledged this Instrument to be their Act and Deed John Bowles Justice Pacis. Thankful '#' More her mark and a seal. Thankful More Signed Sealed and Delivered this Instrument in presence of witnesses Hezekiah Turner Edmund Weld junr

"Suffolk Ss Roxbury May 18th 1730 Thankful More appearing before me the Subscriber acknowledged this Instrument to be her free Act and Deed John Bowles Justice Pacis.
"March 12th 1734 Rec'd & Accordingly Entred & Examined. Samuel Gerrish Reg'r."

Isn't that amazing? It's equivalent to a will and distribution of an estate. The children came to an amicable agreement (and only four months after their father died) and split the estate along the legal lines according to their father's wishes. Of course, they were all mature adults - the oldest surviving son was Joseph (1672-1754), who was age 58 in 1730, and the youngest surviving child was Thankful (Seaver) Mower (1684-????), who was age 46 in 1730. My guess is that they were anxious to receive their shares of the estate.

From this document, I learned:

* Wwhere Shubael Seaver's property was located in Roxbury. I don't know exactly where this lands were located - I haven't checked for a map from that time period.

* The children surviving Shubael, and the names of his daughter's husbands, and where they resided at the time of the transaction.

Land records are one of the best genealogy resources available, and are useful to define relationships, property location, history and value. The land records of almost all counties (and towns when they are recorded there) are available only in local courthouses or archives. Many, but not all, of these deed records before 1900 have been microfilmed by the Family History Library and are available on microfilm on loan at a local Family History Center.

Eventually, the deed indexes, and the deed records themselves, will be imaged, digitized and indexed by FamilySearch Indexing. That cannot happen soon enough for me! I still have a lot of deed research to do in colonial Massachusetts, not to mention my ancestral counties in Ontario, New Brunswick, NH, VT, RI, CT, NY, NJ, PA, IN, IL, WI, IA, NE, KS, MO and CA. Then there's my wife's ancestral counties...this could take more than my lifetime to complete!

1 comment:

John said...

I chose 'Amanuensis' for the alliteration, but I still feel it is an accurate choice. We can be viewed as our family's acolyte - a single employer.

We aren't paid (in money), perhaps, but many of the original amanuenses were educated Greek slaves, and belonged to a household.

When I hear 'scrivener' I think of Melville's character, Bartleby. "I would prefer not to."