Monday, August 10, 2015

Amanuensis Monday - Week 280: 1762 Will of Nicholas Sever (1680-1764) of Kingston, Mass.

Genea-blogger John Newmark (who writes the excellent  TransylvanianDutch blog) started a Monday blog theme years ago called "Amanuensis Monday."  John offers this definition for "amanuensis:" 

"A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another."

The subject today is the 1762 will of Nicholas Sever (1680-1764) of Kingston, Plymouth County, Massachusetts:

The transcription of this document is:

[page 34, top of the left-hand page]

In the Name of God Amen

I Nicholas Sever of Kingston in the county of Plymouth Esq. Being of a
sound mind & memory but apprehensive of human frailties and the
uncertainty of the life Man, do make & ordain this my last will & Testa^t.
First of all I commit my soul into the hands of Almighty God thro' Jesus
Christ the Redeemer of Mankind & then my Body to the Earth to be
decently buried at the discression of my Executor hereafternamed &
my worldly Estate which God has blessed me with I give & devise in
manner following viz. I give to my well beloved wife Susannah
one hundred & thrity three pounds six shillings & eight pence Lawfull
money one moiety thereof to be paid soon after my decease & the other
moiety twelve months after.

Item. I give to Mrs. Baxter one Johannes & to Mrs. Dorothy one Johannes.

Item. I give to my Grandchildren William, Sarah, & James Sever, to each
of them one Johannes.

Item. I give to my only Son William Sever Esq. The remainder of my
Estate both real & personal to him & his heirs forever whom I also make &
ordain sole Executor of this my last will & Testament. In witness whereof
I have hereunto set my hand & seal Dated at Kingston Aprill 26 1762.
Sign^d seal^d & declar^d as my last will &                    Nicholas Seaver {seal}
Testament. Wrestling Brewster Jun^r
                   Lemuel Holmes
                  Joshua Ransom

{seal} To all People to whom these presents shall come John Cushing Esq.
Judge of the Probate of wills &c. in the county of Plymouth in the province
of the Massachusetts Bay in New England sendeth Greeting.

Know ye that on the 24th day of Aprill AD 1764 the Instrument hereto
annexed / purporting the last will & Testament of Nicholas Sever late
of Kingston in sd County of Plimouth Esq. dec^d was presented for prob.
By William Sever Esq. The Executor therein named then present ^Josh^a Ransom^ & Wrestling
Brewster Jun. Two of the Witt^s thereto subscrib^d who made oath that
they saw the said Testator sign seal & heard him declare sd Instrum^t
to be his last will & Testament & that they together with Lemuel Holmes
in the sd Testator's presence subscrib^d their names as witt^s to the
Execution thereof & that according to the best of their Judments he was
of sound & disposing mind & memory. I do prove approve & allow of
the sd Instrument as the last will & Testament of sd dec^d. I do commit
the adm^n thereof in all matters the same concerning & of his Estate
whereof he died seized & possess^d in sd County unto Wm. Sever Esq the

[page 35, top of right-hand page]

Before named Executor well & faithfully to execute said will & to administer
the Estate of the sd dec^d according thereunto who accepted of the said Trust &
who shall render an account upon oath of his proceedings when thereto
lawfully required. In Testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand
& seal of Office the day & Year above written.
Jno Cushing

Know all Men by these Presents that We William Sever of Kingston
& James Warren of Plymouth both in the County of Plymouth Esq^rs are
holden & do stand firmly bound & obliged unto John Cushing Esq^r Judge
of the Probate of Wills & for granting Letters of administration on the
Estates of Persons dec^d within sd County in the sum of two thousand
pounds lawfull money & to the sure payment whereof to sd John
Cushing in his said Capacity or his Successors in sd office we bind our
selves our heirs Executors & administrators Jointly & severally firmly
by these presents sealed with our seals Dated the 4th of May A D 1764.

The Condition of this Obligation is such that if the said
Wm Sever Esq. Who is appointed Executor & residuary Legatee in the
will of his Father Nicholas Sever Esq. dec^d shall well & truly pay the
dec'd Just Debts & the Legacies in said will given, then the above
written shall be void or else remain in full force & virtue.
Signed sealed & delivered William Sever {seal}
in Presence of
Edward Winslow Jas. Warren {seal}
Sarah Winslow.

The source citation for this document is:

"Massachusetts, Plymouth County, Probate Records, 1633-1967," Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, FamilySearch ( : accessed 15 July 2015), probate clerk transcriptions, ""Probate Records, 1763-1771, Vol 19-20," Volume 19, pages 34-35 (penned), Nicholas Sever will and other probate papers; citing original records in the Massachusetts State Archives, Boston, Mass.

In his will, Nicholas Sever mentions his wife Susannah (his second wife, Susanna (Farnum) (Lyman) (Winslow) Sever, whom he married 15 October 1761 in Kingston;  he mentions his grandchildren, William Sever, James Sever and Sarah Sever, who are, I believe, the first three children of Nicholas Sever's son, William Sever; he names his son, William Sever as his executor and sole heir of his estate besides the money bequeathed to the other named heirs.  

Nicholas Sever had three other children besides William Sever:

*  John Sever (1731-1760) of Kingston, who married Judith Cooper (1730-1764), and had one daughter, Judith Sever (1754-1759).
*  James Sever (1734-1745) of Kingston.
*  Henry Sever (1736-????), who married Lenety Wadsworth in 1765 in Kingston, and I have no further information.

The two ladies named (servants? friends?) and the three grandchildren each received "one Johannes"
. in the will of Nicholas Sever  That piqued my interest - what is a "Johannes?"  It must be a piece of money.

I Googled it, and found an article about it in the book:

American Economic Association, Papers and Proceedings of the Twelfth Annual Meeting, Ithaca, N.Y., December 27-29, 1899 (New York : The MacMillan Company, February 1900), pages 944-945; accessed on Google Books ( 

The text says (in a long article describing currency and banking in colonial Massachusetts in the 1750 time):

"...It was provided in this Act that it should not be lawful after March 31, 1750, to receive any of the following coins at higher rates than those fixed by the Act, namely:  a guinea, at 28s. ; an English crown at 6s. 8d.; a half crown at 3s. 4d. ; an English shilling at 1s. 4d. ; an English sixpence at 8d., a double Johannes, or gold coin of Portugal of the value of three pounds twelve shillings, sterling, at £4 16s. ; a single Johannes of the value of thirty-six shillings, sterling, at 48s.; a moidore at 36s. ; a pistole of full weight at 22s.; three English farthings for one penny, and English half pence in the same proportion."

So one Johannes was a gold coin of Portugal whose value was set at thirty-six shillings.  Another source said a dollar was 6 shillings.  Interesting!  I'm sure that a little more study would find a table of money equivalents for each of the colonies.

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