Monday, June 21, 2010

Amanuensis Monday - the probate records of Elizabeth (Arnold) (Hawkins) Smith

Genea-blogger John Newmark (who writes the excellent TransylvanianDutch blog) started his own Monday blog theme many months ago called Amanuensis Monday. 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."

My subject today is the probate records of Elizabeth (Arnold) (Hawkins) Smith (1685-1758) of Providence, Scituate and Glocester, Rhode Island. She married (first) William Hawkins (1679-1712) in 1704 and bore him five children, and (second) Israel Smith (1690-1726) in 1718, and bore him four children.

Widow Elizabeth (Arnold) (Hawkins) Smith of Glocester died testate, having written a will dated 1 July 1758. The will was proved on 17 July 1758 (Glocester (RI) Probate Records, 1731-1915, Volume 1, Pages 173-176, on FHL Microfilm 0,941,847). The will reads (a clerk's copy in the town records):

"In the name of God Amen This 5th day of July in the 35th year of the Reign of our soverign Lord George the Second of Great Britain the King AD 1758: I Elizabeth Smith of the Town of Glocester in the County of Providence & Colony of Rhode Island &c widow being Sick & weak of body but of perfect mind and memory thanks be given to allmighty God for the Same: and Calling to mind the mortality of my body and Knowing it is appointed for all men to Die: Do make and ordain this to be my Last will & Testament: that is first of all I Recommend my Soul into the hands of God that gaive it and as touching Such worldly Estate as it hath pleases God to give me in this Life I Give Demise and Dispose of the Estate in the following manner and form. Imprimus my will is that all my Just Debts be first Satisfied and paid by my Executors hereafter named.


"Item I give to my Son Stephen Smith all my Coopers Tools that did belong to my Husband and like wise a Draught Chain & one pair of horse Chains.

"Item I Give to my Two Daughters Ruth Hopkins and Deborah Waid my best feather bed to be Equaly Divided between them and like wise I Give to my Daughter Deborah Waid my Iron Kettle.


"Item I give to my Daughter Elizabeth Man my Chest of Drawers warming pann Smoothing base and my Long Cloke.

"Item I Give to my Daughter Neomia Angel my Squar Table and five pounds old Tenor.


"Item my will is that all the Remainder of my Estate be Equally Divided among my Children namely my son Stephen Smith my Daughters Ruth Hopkins Deborah Waid Elizabeth Man and Namoi Angel the Ramaining part of my Estate that is not above Dispose of in this my will: and my will is that my Son Elijah Hawkings Children have no part of my Estate he having Recd his portion already and my will further is that my Son Stephen Smith and my Grandson William Hawking be the Executor to this my last will and Testament.

"Item my will is that my Grand Daughter Elizabeth Hopkins have my large Silver Sleeve Buttens.


"Item I Give my Grand Daughter Martha Smith my Small Silver Sleeve Buttens & my looking Glass. And I do hereby Reject Revoke & Disallow and Disanull all former or other wills or Testaments by me at any time made Ratifying this & no other to be my last will and Testament.

"Signed Sealled published pronounced .................................. her
and Declared to be her Last will .............................. Elizabeth + Smith {seal}
and Testament in the presence of us - .................................. mark
Andrew Brown
Abraham Smith
Uriah Hawkings


"Glocester July the 17th 1758.
In council Andrew Brown Esqr Abraham Abraham Smith and Uriah Hawkings the witnesses to this will on Solemn Engagement Declared that they Saw the Testatrix Sign Seal publish pronounce and declare this will to be her Last will & Testament. and that they in her presence Subscribed as Witnesses: and at that Time She was in her perfect mind & memory according to their Judgments Wherefore it is vited & Resolved that this will be now approved & allowed to be a Good will & hereby is ordered to be Recorded.
.................................................................... Richd Steere Clerk
Received the 17th of July 1758 and Recorded by R. Steere C Clerk."


"The Inventory of the widow Elizabeth Smiths personall Estate in Glocester who Departed this Life the Eleventh Day of July in the year of our Lord 1758: and was apprised on the thirteenth of the same July by us the Subscribers

Item to Wearing apparel and Linen ................................................ 159-00-0

Item to one bed and beding with out Cord or bed Sted .................... 100-00-0
Item to one warming pan L6: & a flat hanging basket L1 ................... 07-00-0
Item to pails & bowle & trays L3: frying pan L1:brass kittle L2 .......... 06-00-0
Item to one Tramel L4: Tongs L1 10:Shie L1: one Kittle L3 ................. 09-10-0
Item to one flock bed & furniture L38: one Chest of Drawers L12 ...... 48-00-0
Item to one pair of Stillyards L7: to one box Iron & Ructers L4
& one Char L1 ................................................................................. 12-00-0
Item to pewter L8: & two Glass bottles L1-16: & one laidle Kirk ......... 09-16-0
Item to another pail & Chesfals & one Earthen pan & a tunel ............ 02-05-0
Item to one Table L6 - to one Clark Stole & Small morter L1 ............. 07-00-0
Item to Two cowes L120: & five Sheep L25 ..................................... 145-00-0
Item to one wooden ladle Stick & a Chamber pot ............................. 00-10-0
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
.................................................................................................... 406-01-0
Abraham Smith
Jonah Steere


"Glocester July the 17th 1758
In Council Voted & Resolved that the above written Inventory be accepted allowed & it hereby is ordered to be Recorded, Richd Steere Clerk.
Received the 17-th of July 1758: & Recorded by R. Steere C Clerk."


"Whereas Elizabeth Smith of Glocester in the County of Providence widow deceased did in & by her Last will & Testament name and appoint her son Stephen Smith and William Hawkings both of said Glocester yeomen Executors of her Said will (but the said Stephen died before his mother the said Elizabeth) and Where as the said William did on the Seventeenth day of July Ad 1758: and in the thirty Second year of his majestys Reign George the Second of Great Britain &c King prove said will before the Town Council of Glocester aforesaid.

"These are therefore to order & fully Impower you the said William Hawkings: and you hereby are fully Impowered to take into your Care Custody & possession all & singular the personall Estate of the said Elisabeth that did at the Time of her death belong to her & on the Same fully to administer by paying all her Just Debts and Legacies & to act and do in all Cases as you by Law and the aforesaid will are Impowered and Required to do: and Render an account of your proceedings therein unto the Town Council or their Successors in said office when Legally called there unto: Given by order of the Town Council aforesaid Held at said Glocester the above said Seventeenth day of July AD 1758: and Sealed with their Seal by their order, I Richard Steere Clerk.
Recd the 17th of July 1758 and Recorded by R. Steere C. Clerk."

This is the will that provides the best evidence that her daughter, Ruth Hawkins, was the woman who married Nathaniel Wade (1709-1754) in 1731 in Scituate, RI and then married, as Nathaniel's widow, Zebedee Hopkins on 9 February 1758. In the will, written after Ruth's marriage to Zebedee Hopkins, she is clearly named as daughter Ruth Hopkins. Daughter Deborah Hawkins married Nathan Wade, a brother of Nathaniel Wade.

Elizabeth had a substantial personal estate, although some of the appraised values seem inflated to me. For instance, the bed without the bedstead was appraised at 100 pounds. I wonder how you "divide the best feather bed?" Her clothing and linen was valued at 159 pounds. The inventory does provide the value of a chamber pot - 10 shillings.

Note that these probate records define her death as 11 July 1758. Her son, Stephen Smith, died on 7 July 1758 and could not act as an executor.

Aren't probate records wonderful? I am always amazed that many researchers never search for them in order to solve their elusive ancestor problems.

4 comments:

Scottish Genealogist said...

Very interesting post - there's a wealth of exciting stuff in Wills! I wondered about the division of the bed too :-) Jo

G said...

Randy,

Have any of your Hawkins lines in the 1700s migrated to St. Georges Parish, Harford County, Maryland?
I have Hawkins from this local from my father's side

From my mother's side,
I have some Darling (yes, that is the surname) ancestors that lived in Gloucester, Providence, Rhode Island from 1749-1820. My great,great, great grandmother (Harriet Darling) was born there. Do you have any Darling collateral lines?

(before Gloucester, Providence, Rhode Island, my Darling family lied in Mendon,Worcester County, MA (1687-1806) and Braintree, Plymouth, MA: Dennis Darling (1663).

G said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gwynn Socolich said...

Randy, I left the last comment but for some reason it just says G??
Gwynn