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 agreement drawn by the heirs of Shubael Seaver (1640-1730) of Roxbury, Suffolk County, Massachusetts. He married Hannah Wilson (1647-1722) in 1668, and they had six children, five of whom were living at the time of Shubael's death.
Shubael Seaver did not write a will, nor was his estate probated. Shortly before his death, 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 Deeds 44:45, LDS Microfilm 0,493,949). The details in this indenture are identical to those in the settlement of the estate (Suffolk County Deeds 49:235, LDS Microfilm 0,493,951):
"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."
Some of the lessons learned from this document include:
* Property can be divided and passed to heirs through a deed or indenture, but all of the heirs need to agree to the division.
* The heirs seemed to amicably settle the estate of their "honoured father" quickly after his death.
* Why did Shubael Seaver bequeath his property in this way? Was he too old or feeble to express his will to a scribe? Did he express his will verbally to one or more of his children, or to his trustee, Edmund Weld?
* The division of the property is very clear, and each heir signed off on the division. The agreement provides the names of the husbands of Shubael Seaver's daughters.
* Sometimes documents such as this are not recorded until years after the events transpired. In this case, this was all recorded in 1734, only four years after the agreement was executed. Researchers need to search for many years after a person's death in order to ensure that they find all recorded documents for the deceased person. Some documents were only recorded when the grantee sold property or died, and that could be decades after the initial property exchange.