Monday, January 25, 2010

Amanuensis Monday - the Will of Ruth (Hawkins) (Wade) Hopkins

Genea-blogger John Newmark (who writes the excellent TransylvanianDutch blog) started his own Monday theme several months ago called Amanuensis Monday. I loved the idea, and recently decided to follow it in order to share ancestral information and keep the theme going, and perhaps it will expand to other genealogy bloggers.

First of all, 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."

Today's task involves the probate records of Ruth (Hawkins) (Wade) Hopkins (1711-1789, died in Glocester RI). Some online family trees attribute Nathaniel Wade's (1709-1754, died in Scituate RI) six children to Ruth Hawkins and also to a Ruth Hopkins. Rhode Island records show that Nathaniel Wade married Ruth Hawkins on 26 June 1731 in Scituate RI, and they had children Simon, Dudley, Mary, Ruth, Deborah and John Wade. After Nathaniel's death in 1754, Ruth married Zebedee Hopkins on 9 February 1758. Zebedee died before Ruth in 1789 in Scituate RI, and they had no children together.

Ruth (Hawkins) (Wade) Hopkins died testate, having written a will on 23 November 1789 that was proved on 4 February 1790. The will (transcribed from Glocester (RI) Probate and Civil Records, 1731-1915, Volume 2, pages 122-126, accessed on FHL Microfilm 0,941,847) reads (with paragraph breaks inserted for readability):

"In the name of God Amen I Ruth Hopkins of Glocester in the County of Providence & State of Rhode Island & Plantations Widow Woman Being Advanced in years & in a Poor State of health at this time But of a Sound Mind & Memory at this time thanks be to almighty God for the Same & Knowing it is appointed for man once to Die I do here by make & ordain this to be my Last will & testament. And as touching such Worldly Estate as it hath Pleased God to bless me with in this Life I Give Bequeath & Dispose of in the following Form & manner as is herein further Expressed.

"Imprimus I Give & Bequeath Unto my well Beloved Son John Wade my Bed whereon I now Sleep together with the Bedstead and all the Furniture thereunto Belonging.

"Item I Give & Bequeath unto my well beloved Cousin Sarah Hawkins Daughter to Uriah Hawkins all my Iron ware of Every Kind.

"Item I Give unto my Grandaughter Deborah Potter one Worsted Duroy Gown the most Palest Blue one.

"Item I Give unto my Son Simon Wade one Silver Dollar or the Value thereof to be Paid him by my Executor out of my Estate after my Decease.

"Item I give unto my son Dudly Wade one Silver Dollar or the value thereof to be Paid him by my Executor out of my Estate after my Decease.

"Item my will is and I hereby order & Give the Remainder Part of my Estate not herein Before Given away, that after my Just Debts & funeral Charges are paid and the Legacies herein Before Mentioned that what then Remains of my Estate, that I have not herein Before Given away my Will is and I hereby order & Give the same to my Son John Wade and to the aforenamed Sarah Hawkins to be equally Divided Between them. And I hereby make & appoint my said Son John Wade to be my Sole Executor of this my Last will & testament & I hereby Revoke Disanull and Disallow all other & former will or wills by me at any time heretofore Made, Ratifying allowing & Confirming this and no other to be my Last will & testament. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand & Seal this twenty third Day of November Anno Domini 1789.

"Signed Sealed & Published and Pronounced by the said Ruth Hopkins to be her Last will & testament in the Presence of us the Subscribers who in her Presence & in the Presence of each other Subscribed our names as Witnesses
Levi Martin ...................................................................... her
Uriah Hawkins ......................................................... Ruth X Hopkins
Zebee Hopkins" .............................................................. mark

The will was presented to the Glocester Town Council on 4 February 1790, who accepted and approved the will:

"Glocester February the 4th 1790. In Town Council this will Being Presented for Probate, and Levi Martin, Uriah Hawkins & Zebedee Hopkins Esqr. the Witnesses did on Solemn Engagement before this Council Declare that they saw Ruth Hopkins sign & Seal this Paper & heard her Declare it to be her Last will & testament, and they in her & each others Presence Subscribed their Names as Witnesses and She at that time appeared to be of Sound Mind & Memory. Wherefore it is Voted that this will be and is Proved & Approved And That it be Recorded
Pr. ordr R. Steere Cou. Clk.
And Recorded Pr. R. Steere Cou. Clk."

The Town Council approved John Wade to be the executor of the will and administrator of the estate:

"Whereas Mrs. Ruth Hopkins of Glocester in the County of Providence & State of Rhode Island who Departed this Life on the 27th Day of December AD 1789. Which said Ruth was Relict of Zebedee Hopkins Late of said Glocester Deceased did in & by her Last Will & testament Name & appoint her son John Wade Sole Executor of her said Will & the said John having since Proved Said Will by & Before the Town Council of Said Glocester this fourth Day of February in the Year of our Lord one thousand Seven hundred and Ninety.

"These are therefore in the Name of the Governor & Company of the State of the State of Rhode Island to order and fully impower you the said John Wade to take into your Care Custody & Possession all & Singular the Personal Estate Rights & Credits of her the said Ruth Hopkins that Did Belong to her at the time of her Death & on the same to administer by Paying her Just Debts & acting in all matters & things Relaiting the aforesaid Premises as you by Law & the aforesaid Will are Required to do & be Ready at all times to Render a true & Just account of your Doings Relaiting the said Premises when Legally Called thereunto unto the Said Town Council or their Successors in said office when Legally Called thereunto.

"Given by order of the aforesaid Town Council the said fourth Day of February & Sealed with their Seal by their Order
Pr. R. Steere Cou. Clk.
And Recorded Pr. me R. Steere Cou. Clk."

"An Inventory of all and singular the Goods & Chattels Rights and Credits of Ruth Hopkins widow and Relict to Zebedee Hopkins Late of Glocester in the County of Providence & State of Rhode Island &c Deceased who Departed this Life on the Seventh Day of December AD 1789. And was Apprised on the fourth Day of January AD 1790 by us the Subscribers."

The inventory was appraised by Samuel Steere and Stephen Irons, and it totalled 36 pounds, 0 shillings and 2 pence.

This probate record names Ruth's three sons Simon Wade, Dudley Wade and John Wade, clearly states that she was the widow of Zebedee Hopkins. It names a "cousin" Sarah Hawkins, probably the daughter of her brother, Uriah Hawkins. The Town Council record says her death date was 27 December 1789 but the inventory entry says Ruth's death date was 7 December 1789. Which is correct? I am using the Town Council date, although it was written after the inventory was taken, based on the fact that her son John Wade made the statement under oath. It could be that he mis-spoke or the council clerk transcribed the date in the Town Council book incorrectly. Does it really matter? Probably not.

Note that none of the records above are available in online databases yet. Land and probate records on FHL microfilms eventually may be imaged and indexed in the FamilySearch Indexing project, but they may be a long time coming. The message here is that all researchers need to use brick-and-mortar repositories - libraries, archives, courthouses and FHCs in order to obtain original source documents that prove events and relationships.

UPDATED: 9 a.m. corrected minor errors in blog text.

No comments: