Monday, February 4, 2013

Amanuensis Monday - Probate Records of Jonathan Oatley (1689-1755)

Genea-blogger John Newmark (who writes the excellent TransylvanianDutch blog) started his own Monday blog theme several years 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 records for Jonathan Oatley (1689-1755) of South Kingstown, Rhode Island.  Jonathan had four children by his first wife, Deliverance --?-- (????-1734):  Samuel Oatley (1726-1794); Rebecca Oatley (1728-????); Rhoda Oatley (1730-1757); Benedict Oatley (1732-1821).  By his second wife, Mary --?-- (1702-1786), he had two children:  Jonathan Oatley (1737-????); Joseph Oatley (1739-????).  All children were born in South Kingstown.

Jonathan Oatley died testate, having written a will on 20 July 1755, less than two months before his death.  The will reads (transcribed by Randy Seaver from South Kingstown (Rhode Island) Probate and Town Council Records, Volume 5, Pages 25-27, accessed on FHL Microfilm 0,931,834):

"In the Name of God amen, I, Jonathan Oatly of South Kingstown in the County of Kings County in the Colony of Rhode Island &c. yeoman being sick & weak of  Body but of a sound mind & in perfect memory Do make & ordain this my last Will & Testament That is to say principally & first of all I commend my soul into the Hand of God who gave & my Body to the Earth to buried in decent Christian manner according to the Discretion of my Executor herein after named my just Debts & funeral charges being first paid by my said Executor, I give devise and bequeath of my Worldly Estate in the following manner & Form.

"Imprimis - I give & bequeath unto my well beloved wife Mary Oatly, my large black chest and all that part of my Household Stuff which she brought with her to me together with all my stock without Doors & any part of my House she shall incline to Improve for & During the Time of her widowhood.  I likewise give her the sum of Fifty Pounds in Bills of publick Credit to be paid her by my sd Executor in Two years after my decease.

"Item - I give & devise unto my beloved son Samuel Oatley the sum of Five Pounds in Bills of Credit to be paid by my said Executor within two years after my decease.

"Item - I give & Devise unto my beloved son Benedict Oatly all my Housing & Homestead Bounded Northerly on an Highway Easterly & Southerly on land of Joseph Torry & Westerly on land of James Willson. To him his heirs and assigns forever, He paying to his mother in law & his Brother Samuel the legacies before mentioned and given, and all my Just Debts also I bequeath to him my great Bible.

"Item - I give & bequeath unto my beloved Daughter Rebecca Champlin the one half of all my Household goods not herein disposed of to her mother, to her, Her Heirs and assigns for ever I likewise give her the use & improvement of the other half Solong as Ephraim Drake (my daughter Rhoda's Husband) shall live at whose decease the one Half as aforesaid I give & bequeath unto my beloved daughter Rhoda Drake her Heirs & assigns.  But it is to be understood & my will is that my daughter Rebecca (before any division is to be made) shall have one Feather Bed & Beding.

"Item - I give and bequeath unto my two sons Samuel and Benedict all my wearing apparel and what Cloath is in the House not made into any garment to be Equally divided Between Them -- and my Will is that all my Books not herein before disposed of be equally divided between my said Wife and my said son Benedict.

"Lastly, I do hereby constitute, ordain & appoint my Beloved son Benedict Oatly Sole Executor of this my Last Will and Testament Revoking & disanulling all former Wills and Testaments by me heretofore made Ratifying and Confirming this and this only to be my Last.  In witness Whereof I have hereunto set my Hand & Seal the Twentyeth Day of July Anno the Domini one Thousand Seven Hundred and Fifty five.

"Signed, sealed, published, pronounced,
& declared by the said Jonathan Oatly
to be his Last Will & Testament
in presence of us the subscribers.
................................................................................... Jonathan Oatly  (seal)
Latham Clarke
Martha Clarke
William Steward."

On 8 September 1755, Latham Clarke and Martha Clarke personally appeared before the Town Council and declared under oath that they witnessed Jonathan Oatley of South Kingstown deceased sign, seal and declare the above to be his last will and testament and signed as witnesses to the act.

An inventory of the personal estate of Jonathan Oatly, late of South Kingstown, deceased, was taken by Latham Clarke and Benjamin Rodman, as showed by his executor Benedict Oatly and his widow Mary Oatly. The inventory of the personal estate, in two columns over two pages of the records, totaled 559 pounds, 12 shillings, 1 pence.  The inventory was approved by the Town Council on 12 January 1756, and recorded by the clerk on 15 January 1756 (from South Kingstown (Rhode Island) Probate and Town Council Records, Volume 5, Pages 34-36, accessed on FHL Microfilm 0,931,834).

Only four children of Jonathan Oatley are mentioned in his will - all by his first wife.  There is no mention of the two sons accorded to the second wife, Mary - Jonathan and Joseph.  The married surnames of the two daughters, Rebecca Champlin and Rhoda Drake, are used, and Rhoda's husband, Ephraim Drake, is identified.  I found interesting that Rebecca received sole use and improvement of the household goods until Rhoda's husband died, and then Rhoda was to receive her half. 

My ancestry is through the son Benedict Oatley.  It is interesting that the will names Jonathan's current wife as Benedict's "mother-in-law," implying that she is his stepmother.

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Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver