Monday, December 6, 2010

Amanuensis Monday - the Probate Records of Daniel Smith (1642-1681) of Watertown, Massachusetts

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."

The subject today is the probate file of Daniel Smith (1642-1681) of Watertown in Massachusetts Bay Colony.  He married Mary Grant (1647-????) on 22 February 1667/8 in Watertown.  They had seven children, Daniel Smith (1669-1718); Grace Smith (1671-1714); John Smith (1672-1739); Elizabeth Smith (1673-1747); Sarah Smith (1675-????); Abigail Smith (1678-????); Joseph Smith (1680-1742).

Daniel Smith of Watertown died testate. His will reads (as transcribed by Randy Seaver from Middlesex County Probate Records, volume 5, pages 415-416, accessed on FHL Microfilm 0,521,762):


"I Daniel Smith of Watertown in the Count. of Middlesex, being very sick & weak in my body & dayly looking when my change shall be yet through the mercy & goodwill of God I am in understanding & memory sound, & do declare this to be my last will & testament as followeth:

"I returne my spirit unto God yt gave it & my body to the Earth from whence it was taken to be decently buried at the discretion of my executor, hoping at the last day to have a glorious resurrection, both of body & soul through ye mercies of the Lord Jesus Christ. I give unto my deare & loveing wife my whole estate both housing & lands & moveables for her comfort & maintenance & the bringing up of my children so long as shee shall continue a widdow after my decease, but if she shall see reason to marry again, then my will is she shall enjoy ye thirds of the yearly income of my lands & yt only.

"I give unto my two eldest sons namely Daniel Smith & Jno Smith after my wife's decease or marriage my houseing both dwelling house & barn with all my lands both meadow & upland equally to them as is after expressed, & if either of them dye before they have attaind to the age of one & twenty years yn my will is if my third son named Joseph Smith shall enjoy yt part & proportion of him yt dyed as before; & if all my three sons do live yn my will is yt my son Joseph abovesd shall have an equall proportion with his eldest brethren to be paid him out of my houses & lands but not in house & land. I give unto my eldest son Daniel Smith abovesd my horse & reins & furniture for the horse with all my wearing cloaths both linnen & woollen. My will is yt all my moveable estate after my wife's decease or marriage be equally divided among all my daughters: & as to my [... 3 words...] was to bestow upon any of my daughters my will is yt it shall be performed without any alteration.

"And I do nominate & appoint my deare & loveing wife to be sole Executrix to this my last will & testament & to earnestly desire my good friends John Bisco & William Bond senr to be overseers of this my last will to be helpfull to my wife in her desolate condition in the performance of this my will & in looking after my children. & as a confirmation of this my will I have sett my hand this one & thirtieth of May Six hundred eighty & one.

"As witnesseth,
John Bisco   .......................................................  Daniel Smith
Will. Bond"

Sworn by the witnesses on 20 June 1681 as attested by Jonathan Remington, Clerk of the Court.

The inventory of the estate of Daniel Smith of Watertown, who died 7 June 1681, was apprized by John Bisco, Henry Spring and William Bond, on 17 June 1681. The real estate included:

*   his dwelling house and barn with five acres of upland (60 pounds),
*  two acres of meadow land near the dwelling house on the south side of the highway (16 pounds),
*  5 acres of salt marsh adjoining to Dorchester field (50 pounds),
*  four acres of meadow above Mr. samuells farm (8 pounds)
*  3 acres of upland about the Fresh Pond (3 pounds)
*  50 acres of divident land (10 pounds).

The total estate was apprized at about 154 pounds, including livestock, supplies, clothing, household goods, furniture, etc. The inventory was presented by the executrix and accepted by the Court on 21 4th month 1681. (Middlesex County Probate Records, volume 5, page 416-418, accessed on FHL Microfilm 0,521,762).

All of Daniel Smith's children were minors when he died, and he was relying on his wife to bring them to maturity.  He named his three sons, but not his daughters.  I don't know if Mary (Grant) Smith lived out her life as a widow or if she married again.  My ancestor is their daughter. Elizabeth Smith, who married John Peirce (1673-1744) of Watertown in 1702.

This Daniel Smith and his future wife, Mary Grant, have several mentions in Roger Thompson's book, Sex in Middlesex; Popular Mores in a Massachusetts County, 1649-1699, for their premarital escapades in the barn.

1 comment:

MHD said...

Hi, Randy!
Thanks for posting this. I knew there'd be more 'cousin-ness' between us! Christopher Grant, whom I believe is your Mary (Grant) Smith's father, is my 9th great-grandfather.