Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The probate record of Joseph Champlin (1758-1850) of South Kingstown RI

One of the probate records I found in the South Kingstown (RI) Probate Court records was that of Joseph Champlin (1758-1850). Today, I have transcribed the will and the inventory, and summarized the other court records. These documents show how probate records are often "golden" documents in genealogy research. Here are my notes:


Joseph Champlin of South Kingstown wrote a will dated 14 February 1850, which was proved 12 August 1850 (South Kingston (RI) Town Council Records, 1704-1943, Volume 6, page 262, clerk's copy from FHL Microfilm 0,931,838). The will reads (transcribed by the author):

"Be it remembered that I Joseph Champlin of South Kingstown in the County of Washington &c Yeoman being advanced in years and infirm of body but of sane mind do make and ordain this my last Will & Testament.

"Principally and first of all I recomend my Soul to God and my body to the earth to be buried in decent Christian burial at the discretion of my executors hereafter named and as touching such worldly estate wherewith it hath pleased God to bless me in this life I give devise and dispose of the same in the following manner, viz:

"1st My Will is that all my just debts & funeral expenses to be paid out of my personal estate as soon after my decease as is possibly convenient.

"2nd To my daughter Francis Tucker (wife of Nathan Tucker Jr.) I give and bequeath the interest arising on the sum or share in my estate which I hereafter give to her daughter Amy Tucker to be paid by my executors hereafter named) to said Francis yearly and every year during the time of her natural life.

"3rd To my daughters Phebe Kenyon - Polly Willcox - Amy Oatley - Elizabeth Hazard and to the children of my daughter Nancy Kenyon decd (who are to have the same share in my estate that their mother would have were she living) and to my sons Joseph Champlin Jr, John H. Champlin, and George H. Champlin and my daughter Abby Kenyon and my Grand daughter Amy Tucker I give devise and bequeath all the rest, residue and remainder of my estate real and personal to my said children and grandchildren and to their heirs and assigns forever.

"And lastly I hereby nominate and appoint my sons Joseph Champlin Jun. and George H. Champlin the executors of this my last will and testament hereby revoking and annulling all former or other wills by me made. In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal at South Kingstown aforesaid this fourteenth day of February in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty 1850.
.............................................Joseph X Champlin (seal)

"Signed, sealed, published pronounced and declared by said Joseph Champlin as and for his last will and testament in presence of us who at his request and in his presence and in the presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses to the same. Benj. Hull Wager Weeden George G. Church"

On 12 August 1850, the will was presented to the Court of Probate of South Kingstown for probate and approval and all the subscribing witnesses were present and testified that they saw Joseph Champlin sign and seal the will and heard him declare it to be his last will and testament, and at the time he appeared to be of sane disposing mind and memory. The clerk approved and allowed the will, and it was recorded on 23 August 1850.

On 12 August 1850, The Probate Court also appointed Joseph Champlin and George H. Champlin to execute the last will and testament of their father, having accepted the trust and given bond as the Law directs. They were empowered to recover all debt and take possession of the estate and to administer the estate according to the Law and the will.

The Inventory of the Goods and Chattles, Rights and Credits which were of Joseph Champlin of South Kingstown deceased, shown and set forth to us by (his sons) Joseph Champlin and George H. Champlin - Executors of the last Will and Testament of said Joseph Champlin, taken and appraised by us by virtue of appointment by the Honourable the Court of Probate of the town of South Kingstown, dated 12 August 1850, by Hezekiah Babcock, George C. Babcock, and William S. Perry.

The inventory included:
* On e note signed by John E. Weeden as principal & Wager Weeden as surety at Westerly 25 March 1848 for six hundred and one 74/100 dollars @ 5 pc of 601.74 Interest to 12 August 1850 71.62 Amount = 673.36

* One note signed by Benedict Kenyon South Kingstown Oct 2 1845 for one hundred fifty eight dollars 158 interest as above 46.08. Amount = 204.08
* One note signed by Joseph Champlin Jr. South Kingstown March 25 1850 for seven hundred dollars with interest@ 5 percent 700 Interest as above 13.32 Amount = 713.32
* One note signed by Joseph Champlin the 3rd So. Kingstown April 2 1849 for fifty four 14/100 dollars with interest @ 5 pr ct . Amount = 47.13
* One note signed by Joseph Champlin 3rd So. KingstownMarch 25 1850 for one hundred and seventy dollars with interest at 6 per cent after March 25 1850 after March 25 1851= 170 discount 6.32 , amount = 163.68
* One note signed by Joseph Champlin 3rd So. Kingstown March 25 1850 for one hundred dollars with interest at 5 percent 6 after March 25 1851 100 Discount 3.08 Amount = 96.92
* Cash on hand in the hands of Joseph Champlin one hundred and twenty 36/100 dollars Amount = 120.36
* Cash on hand in the hands of George H. Champlin to four hundred and one 25/100 dollars Amount = 401.25
*** Total Amount 2420.10

* Also a mortgage deed from Samuel Champlin to Joseph Champlin dated So Kingstown April 6 1850for four hundred and twenty five dollars purporting to be surety for a certain note which was not presented.
* Fees for taking inventory and attending court: George C. Babcock - 3.00, Wm S. Perry - 3.00, Hezekiah Babcock - 2.00

The foregoing inventory was presented to the Court on 9 September 1850 and was approved on 11 September 1850.

On 11 August 1851, Samuel Champlin appealed the will of Joseph Champlin to the Supreme Court of Rhode Island meeting at South Kingstown. The entire will and the Court orders made on 12 August 1850 were entered into the record (page 304ff). After reviewing the court records, the original will, and hearing the testimony of witnesses, the Supreme Court upheld the last will and testament of Joseph Champlinand the actions of the Probate court. This was certified on 25 September 1851 (recorded 1 November 1851).

An account of the estate of Joseph Champlin was filed by the executors on 9 October 1854 (page 403). In addition to the notes itemized above, additional funds were received from pension money, court costs for the lawsuit, rent of the home farm for three years, from Mary Willcox, from sale of home farm, interest on notes, cash and sale of land. The total funds in the account before expenses was %5214.78. Money was paid to Joseph Champlin and George H. Champlin for compensation, services, travel and expenses, and council and clerk's fees. The total remaining in the account was $4755.73.

No distribution of the estate is recorded in the Probate Court records. Presumably, the four named daughters received one third of the estate (the share their mother would have received - about 1/12 of the estate each), and the three named sons, daughter Abby Kenyon and granddaughter Amy Tucker received equal shares of the balance (that is, one fifth of the two thirds balance, or 2/15 of the estate each).

The Samuel Champlin who brought the lawsuit before the Supreme Court is probably the eldest son of Joseph and Nancy (Kenyon) Champlin. It is unknown why he was not provided for in the will - perhaps he had already received his portion of the estate or perhaps he was disowned by his father. Note also that the youngest daughter, Alice (Champlin) Tucker was not named in the will for some reason.


One reason for presenting this record here is to illustrate the beauty of the documents in proving relationships. Another reason is to put it on the Internet - perhaps it will help other researchers prove their relationships - after all, they are my distant cousins. Joseph Champlin is one of my 4th great-grandfathers. My ancestor is his daughter, Amy (Champlin) Oatley, wife of Rev. Jonathan Oatley. The appeal by the son Samuel Champlin is also interesting. I did the calculations of the shares of the estates in order to determine just how much my Amy Oatley should have received - it was $396.31. I wonder if she ever received it?

Needless to say, I love probate records! I'm still trying to find all of them for my Rhode Island ancestors and many of my Massachusetts ancestors. Being a 12th generation descendant of colonial New England means that I have thousands of ancestors there, and many of them have probate records. I'm not sure that I will ever complete my tasks - oh well, something for the kids to do!

1 comment:

Erin said...

I also love probate records! I have been doing research on free blacks in antebellum NC for about 7 years now and probate records really help me to find out how a family is related and in the colonial period, that's really the only way I can reconstruct these families!