Monday, May 3, 2010

Amanuensis Monday - the Will of Jonathan White (1730-1804)

Genea-blogger John Newmark (who writes the excellent TransylvanianDutch blog) started his own Monday blog theme several 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."

Today, my subject is Jonathan White (ca 1730-1804), the son of William and Abigail (Thurston) White of Dartmouth MA, the husband of Abigail (Wing) White, and the father of Humphrey, Ruth, Rhoda, Hannah, Holder and Jonathan White, all born in the Dartmouth and Westport area of Bristol County, Massachusetts. Jonathan White (ca 1730-1804) is one of my fifth great-grandfathers, and I descend from his son Humphrey White (1758-1814) who married Sybil Kirby.

Jonathan White died testate on 21 November 1804 in Westport, Bristol County, Massachusetts. His will was proved 4 December 1804 in the Bristol County, Massachusetts, Probate Court. The will transcription reads (from Bristol County, Massachusetts, Probate Records, Volume 41, 1804-1807, on FHL Microfilm 0,462,642, no page numbers):

"I, Jonathan White of Westport in the County of Bristol & Commonwealth of Massachusetts, yeoman, Being at this time in usual health and of sound disposing mind & memory, remembering the uncertainty of life & that is appointed for all men once to die - to prevent Difficulty that might otherways take place with respect to what I have been blessed with of the things of this World, do dispose of in the following manner & form, viz.:

"Imprimus, My Will is that my just Debts & funeral charges be paid by my Executors hereinafter mentioned.

"Item. I Give unto my Beloved Wife, Abigail White the Use and Improvement of the Easterly part of my now Dwelling house, including the Great Room in the Southeast Corner of said house and the bedroom adjoining and all the rooms of the Chamber & Garret that are above them with a priviledge through the Entries and Doors and up Chamber and to the Oven and Well for her use as often as occasion shall require and to the Cellar & to have one Quarter part of the Cellar in the Southwest Corner. I also give her yearly & every year fire wood as much as she shall need for one fire but a suitable length for her fireplace & Draw'd to the door when she shall choose to have it and six bushels of good Indian corn & two bushels of good rye, and half an hundred of good flour, sixty pounds of food pork, fifty pounds of good beef, fifteen pounds fried tallow, ten pounds hog's lard, three pound good Bohea tea, three pounds good coffee, four gallons molasses, eighteen pounds good brown sugar, ten pounds good sheep's wool, ten pounds good flax from the Swingle, and what summer apples she shall need for use out of which orchard she shall choose so long as any apples remains in the orchards & at the time of gathering in apples for her to have six bushels of good winter apples gathered and put in the cellar for her, & two barrels of good late made cyder put in the cellar for her and a sufficiency of all kinds of sauce (that is rais'd) for her use both winter & summer that is, all seasons of the year, and fifteen pounds of good butter & fifty pounds of good new milk, cheese and one pint of milk per day, and half a bushel of salt & one pair Cloth Shoes, and one pair Leather shoes, & the keeping of two Dunghil fowls. And these to be provided and kept for her that is suitable for her to ... and to be ... and stacked for her as often and when she shall call for it both winter & summer all the aforesaid gifts to be provided and delivered her by my two sons Holder White and Jonathan White equally between them yearly and every year so long as my said wife remains my widow and no longer.

"Also I give unto my said wife three Dollars a year that is yearly and every year to be paid by my three sons Humphrey, Holder & Jonathan equally between them so long as she shall remain my widow.

"Also I give unto my said wife my best side saddle & a good bridle, my great looking glass and fire dogs and one half my Silver Spoons and my Great Bible and John Griffiths journal & my two smallest meat tubs together with one half my household goods & furniture, excepting what I shall herein otherways dispose of and one hundred Dollars to her free & clear to her own disposal.

"All the aforesaid gifts & improvements in lieu of her right of dowry or thirds of my estate. I also order my two sons Holder & Jonathan, whenever my said wife shall be sick or unwell to provide a Nurse and whatever necessary she shall want for her comfort or support equally between them.

"Item. I give unto my son Humphrey White, to him his heirs & assigns forever, all my wearing apparel & all my Notes & Book Debts that I have against him (that bear date before this time) excepting one Note of twenty two dollars I give unto his daughter Elizabeth and order him to pay it to her when she shall marry or arrive to the age of eighteen years, but if she should not live to the age of eighteen years then I give it unto my said son Humphrey.

"Item. I give unto my son Holder White to him his heirs & assigns forever all that Farm or tract of land I bought of Joseph Tripp with the salt meadow laying at the foot thereof with all my land laying on the east side of Acoahset River & salt meadow adjoining the same, and my lot of wood land I bought of Silvanus White as by deed may appear, and my half of that lot of wood land called the Cadman lot (& which lot he now owns the other half) bounded easterly on Barney Fitch's land, southerly & westerly on the highway with a priviledge to pass and repass through the land call'd the Willcox lot to Stephen Kirby's land (except the wood on this my said half of Cadman lot I give unto my son Jonathan & for him to cut the wood off when he shall have occasion). I also give unto my said son Holder my sedge flat laying on the great flat so called given me by Hon'd Father. I also give him the one half of all my Cedar Swamp or Rights in Cedar Swamps wherever it may be found with all the Buildings, Priviledges & appurtenances belonging to any and all the aforesaid lands & lots, excepting what is already mentioned. I also give him my said son Holder one cow & the one half of all my blacksmiths tools & all the hay that shall be on the aforesaid lands given him that I shall have at my decease.

"Item. I give unto my son Jonathan White to him his heirs and assigns forever, all the rest and remainder of my lands & lots of land, salt meadow & sedge flats & cedar swamps together with the Buildings thereon & privileges thereto belonging that I have herein otherways disposed of together with the wood on that land given to Holder as is before mentioned and all my live stock, hay & provisions that I have not herein already disposed of and the other half of my blacksmith's tools, & all my farming tools & outdoor moveables & my Desk.

"Item. I give unto my three Daughters Ruth Cornell, Rhoda Cornell & Hannah Kirby the other half of my Household goods & furniture & the one half of my silver spoons not herein before disposed of to be equally divided between my three said daughters. I also give unto my three said Daughters Six hundred dollars that is to each one two hundred Dollars to be paid them by my Executors one year after my decease.

"Lastly, I give unto my two sons Holder & Jonathan & to their heirs & assigns forever all the Residue & Remainder of my Estate not herein otherways disposed of and out of the gifts herein given them I order them to pay my Debts & Expenses of settling my Estate. But if any of my children shall bring in any account against my estate for labor done for me I order the same to be paid and discharged out of that part of my estate that I have herein given them respectively. And I do hereby constitute my two said sons Holder & Jonathan jointly executors to this my last will & testament ordering them to pay the gifts & legacies herein mentioned.

"In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand & seal this sixteenth day of March One thousand Seven hundred & Ninety Seven, 1797."
Jonathan White

"Signed sealed & Declared by the said Jonathan White to be his last will & testament in presence of us
Prince Wing

Abner White
Abner Brownell"

The will clearly identifies the names of Jonathan White's children at the time of the writing of the will in 1797.

Although Humphrey White was the oldest son, he was not named an executor of the will, but was listed as one of the supporters of Jonathan's wife, Abigail White. When the will was written in 1797, Humphrey White and his family resided in Glocester, Providence County, Rhode Island, some distance away from Westport, Bristol County, Massachusetts. Humphrey was bequeathed Jonathan's clothing and all of the "notes and book debts" held against him - apparently Humphrey White owed his father money. Elizabeth White, the daughter of Humphrey White, may have been a favorite of her grandfather Jonathan White - she was bequeathed 22 dollars at age 18 or when she married (she was born before 1797, and married Peleg Wood, although I don't have any more information about her than that).

1 comment:

Geolover said...

A most interesting will, with such details of maintenance for the widow. The testator had a very good idea of what was required for subsistence.

Er, that would be "fire dogs" rather than "five dogs."