Monday, November 14, 2011

Amanuensis Monday - the Will of John Brooks (1623-1691) of Woburn, Massachusetts

Genea-blogger John Newmark (who writes the excellent TransylvanianDutch blog) started a 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 will of John Brooks (1623-1691) of Woburn, Massachusetts.  He married (1)Eunice Mousall (1628-1684) in 1649, and they had eight children: John Brooks (1650-1653); Sarah Brooks (1652-????); Eunice Brooks (1655-1732); Joanna Brooks (1659-1724); John Brooks (1664-1733); Ebenezer Brooks (1666-????); Deborah Brooks (1669-1704); Jabez Brooks (1673-1746).  John Brooks married (2) Mary (Champney) Richardson in 1685 in Woburn, but they had no children.

John Brooks of Woburn died testate on 29 September 1691.  His probate records are in Middlesex County Probate Records, Probate Packet #2,843 (accessed on FHL Microfilm 0,386,035).  The will is difficult to read, but is presented here as transcribed by the author:

"In ye Name of God Amen.
"I John Brooks Sen-r of the Towne of Wooburn in ye Massachusets Collony in New England being bound for Canada in ye Expedition against ye French enemy not Knowing whether I shall ever Return alive, & being at this instant through ye Goodness of God of perfect Memory & minde, Desireing to set my house in order before I goe  Doe make constitute & ordaine this be my Last Will & testament in forme and Manner following, hereby renouncing revoaking and disalowing all other wills ???, or made ???? heretofore.

"Imprimis.  I comitt my Soule to God my Creator hopeing to receive full pardon of all my sins & salvation through ye alone (?) Merits of Jesus Christ my Redeemer, & My body to ye Earth to be buried or where else God in his alwise providence shall dispose it in hope of a Glorious Resurrection in order to ye Reuniteing of both unto ye full enjoyment of God for ever.  As to my Temporall estate which God hath given me, after my Funerall charges are Defrayed, & my Just Debts discharged, my will is yt ye same be ordered improved & disposed as hereafter is expressed in this my will & Testament.

"1.  I doe give to my well beloved wife Mary ye free & full use & improvement of ye one halfe of all my houseing and arable land excepting yt peice of improved land joyning to Jno. Brooks afterwards disposed of, allowing her to c??? ye firewood off my woodlands for her necessary use and all dureing her naturall life shee remaineing my widdow.  I give her allso upon ye certaine knowledge of my decease my Roan Mare to be wholy at her dispos. Also in case she shall Marry again yn my will is yt she shall have all her household goods she brought with her, four cowes, & ten pounds more in Currant pay out of my stuff.

"2.  I give to my sonn Jabez ye other halfe of my Arable lands & housing above mentioned, & all my Meadow & woodlands when he shall arive to the full age of twenty one years & at my decease I give him freely (?) a fetherbed wthout furniture and ye free use of ye halfe of land & also ye Meadow above mentioned, till of age.

"3.  My will is ye Debts & such Legacyes as shall be now named shall be payd out of ye movable estate wch was mine & distinct from hers & ye improvement ... (viz):  twenty pounds wch I give to my Daughter Deborah, and ???? shillings apeece wch I give to my Daughters Unice, Sarah & Joanna, and three yearling calves wch I give to each of my three grandchildren Unice Buck, Unice Carter & Unice Roberts, and five pounds wch I give to Jno Dane in case he performs his Indenture & Ten shillings wch I give to Lieut. James Converse for ye Love I Bear to him, & twenty shillings wch I give to my Rd pastor Mr Jabez Fox all wch to be payd out of my Movable estate & ye improvement of ye whole wch shall be done as fast as it can be produced, & any Continued are capable of Receiveing to paying without prejudice to my executors.

"4.   I give freely to my son John Brooks yt peice of Land above excepted formerly called by ye name of ye English Hills, ye line between Jaboz Brooks & Jno my will is that be settled by Lieut. Converse and I freely give to & acquitt my son Jno of all ye many ... due to me, he paying only out of ye sd Monyes forty shillings to my six Grandchildren Jno Buck, Jno Carter, Jno. Brooks, David Roberts & my sonn John's owne two children Mary & Elizabeth wch I give to be divided among them to bye each of them a Bible, & I Desire my overseers after named to see my will herein be fully performed.

"5.  My will is yt the Tenn pound in ye hands of my sonn Ebenezer wch by deed he is obliged to pay in a year after my decease & he shall pay five pounds of it to his own Daughter Unice Brooks, & ye other five pounds to Mary ye Daughter of his sister Deborah Richardson when, or before, they shall come of age.

"6.  I give to my son Jno Richardson my Best Coach Coat.

"7.  I give to my sonn Jabez after my wifes Decease or when she shall Marry, all my houseing, lands, uplands, Meadowlands & woodlands yt have not formerly been disposed of by Deed, or now by gift to any other person freely to enjoy ye same as his owne proper inheritance forever.

"8.  I doe give & Committ ye Care ordering & dispose of my sonn Jabez to my Trusty & Loving friend Lieut. Converse during his minority, & to be improved by him as he shall see cause & doe desire him to see to ye improving & shall have full power to order Jabez his part of ye estate & improvement as ???? are executor dureing ye time of his ????? for all whose ???? ???? & Trouble at any time, Refering to him or his part, My will is yt ye part of estate shall ??? him full satisfaction from time to time, & my will is that my son Jabez shall from time to time apply himself to ye sd Converse or any other in case of his decease yt he shall faithfully chuse for him, for council & direction, & shall by noe means alienate any land or any thing else wch is of any considerable vallue, without his or their privileg, consent, & approbation till he be twenty five yeares of age.

"9.  To my sonn Ebenezer besides what I have given him already in Lands or otherwise as by debts may appear, I give unto him all my wearing apparrell not disposed of, linnen inely excepted.

"10.  I doe consitutute ordain & appoynt my Beloved Wife Mary & my son Jabez Brooks to be Joynt Executors of this my will.

"11.  & Finally I Doe desire, nominate & appoynt my Trusty & well beloved friends Lieut. James Converse & Samuel Bloggett sen-r to be overseers of this my Will, & my will is yt they shall be well payd out of ye whole for w-t-ever service they shall doe or that they shall expend as such.  I give to each of ym a pair of gloves as a token of my love.  In witness to all ye promises in this & ye otherside of ye Leaf I have hereunto set my hand & seal, this Twenty ninth day of July, Anno Domi sixteen hundred ninty.

"Signed sealed & declared .............................................. John Brooks sen-r  (seal)
in presence of
John ????
Timothy Carter
Ruth Kendall."

On 3 November (9-br)1691, the three witnesses appeared in Court and made oath that they were personally present and saw the subscriber John Brooks sign, seal and heard him declare this to be his last will and testament and that he was of disposing mind.

An "Inventory of the Estate of John Brooks Sen-r of Woobourne in the County of Midd-x in New England, who deceased ye 29th of Sept-r (1691) apprized October 9th, (1691) by Matthew Johnson Sen-r, Samuell Walker Sen-r & James Convers (2nd)" was apprised at 299 pounds, 4 shillings. The housing and lands were apprised at 204 pounds.  The inventory was accepted by the Court on 3 November 1691.

My connection to John Brooks of Wobern is through his daughter, Sarah Brooks (1652) who married Ephraim Buck (1646-1721) in 1671, and bore him eight children.

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