Monday, May 24, 2010

Amanuensis Monday - the Will of Martha Seaver (1764-1832)

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

My subject today is the will and probate records of Martha (Whitney) Seaver, daughter of Samuel and Abigail (Fletcher) Whitney, and the widow of Benjamin Seaver (1757-1816) of Westminster, Worcester County, Massachusetts.

Martha Seaver died testate on 2 September 1832, and her probate papers are in Worcester County Probate Records, Probate Packet 52,908.

The will of Martha Sever (Worcester County Probate Records 72.468, LDS Microfilm 0,856,339), was written 21 July 1832, was filed 7 September 1832 and proved 16 October 1832 (Worcester County Probate Records 72.469, LDS Microfilm 0,856,339). It reads:

"Be it remembered that I Martha Sever of Westminster in the County of Worcester & Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Widow, do on this twenty first day of July in the year of our Lord, One thousand eight hundred and thirty two, make and publish this my last Will and Testament, in manner and form following, viz:

"In the first place, I give to my Daughter Achsah Mosman, One Dollar.

"2ndly. I give to the Children of my Daughter Abigail Fairbank, deceased, One Dollar to be equally divided between them.

"3rdly. I give to the Children of my Son Benjamin Sever deceased the sum of One Dollar to be equally divided between them.

"4thly. I give to my Daughter Martha Leland One Dollar.

"5thly. I give to my Son Silas Sever One Dollar.

"6thly. I give to my son Isaac Sever One Dollar.

"The aforesaid legacies to be paid by my Executor within one year after my decease.

"7thly. I give to my Daughters Susannah & Mary J. Sever the use of the Westerly room in my House with the chamber over the same with a privilege to pass through the entry, also a privilege in the cellar, also to each of them one third of the Household Furniture that I may die seized and possessed of for their own use so long as they shall remain single, but they shall have no right to sale or let their right in the House to any other person, and if they shall out live my son Job Sever, then they shall have the whole of the Household Furniture, but if my son Job Sever shall out live them, or either of them, then he shall have their shares.

"8thly, I give to my son Job Sever all the rest, residue and remainder of all my estate both Real, Personal or seized.

"9thly, I do hereby appoint Edward Kendall Esqr of Westminster my sole Executor of this my Last Will and Testament.

"In Testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal, the day and year above written.
"Signed, sealed and published by the said Marthy Sever, declaring this to be her last Will and Testament, in presence of us, who at her request were called as Witnesses to the same, and in her presence did hereto subscribe our names."

"Merari Spaulding ................................. her
Sewall Barnes ............................ Martha x Sever S.S.
Nathan Howard ................................... mark"

The Widow's dower (both real and personal property), which she received at the death of Benjamin Seaver, was divided among the children. The real estate was appraised at $1,154. It was set off to Asah Mosman (who was to pay Isaac Seaver $5.11); Mary Jane Seaver (who was to pay Isaac Seaver $3.34); Susannah W. Seaver (who was to pay Isaac Seaver $3.34); Job W. Seaver (who was to pay Martha Leland $124.88 and the heirs of Jabez Fairbank $124.88); and Isaac Seaver (who was to pay the Heirs of Benjamin Seaver $124.88) on 4 January 1833. All payments were accepted by those noted (Worcester County Probate Records, 69.387, LDS Microfilm 0,856,338).

The inventory of her estate was taken by Merari Spaulding, Simeon Sanderson and Asa Bigelow on 18 September 1832. The inventory showed Real estate appraised at $750 (the homestead containing 12 and one half acres with the buildings), and Personal estate appraised at $743.24 (Worcester County Probate Records, 71.615, LDS Microfilm 0,856,339).

The administrator's account, dated 15 October 1833, and accepted the same day, shows that the legacies were paid to the children, the debts were paid, and Job Sever received the balance of the estate. Job Sever deposed that he was satisfied with the account (Worcester County Probate Records, 73.323, LDS Microfilm 0,856,340).

This will shows the complications that occur when a husband dies intestate, and the administrator parcels off land and personal property to his children, along with a 1/3 dower right to his wife that includes both real and personal property.

The widow, in this case, bequeaths her own personal property to her children as she desires, being careful to name each child. The real property given as her dower by her husband in his will was distributed to five of their children, and they paid money to the other heirs (I haven't figured out why $124.88 was such a magic number - there were nine children living or with heirs when Martha died). Job Seaver was the eldest son, but was unmarried. Daughter Susannah Seaver was also unmarried, and lived with Job on the homestead until their deaths.

I should have posted Benjamin Seaver's probate records first so that the chain of real and personal property was clear - oh well, next week!

1 comment:

Lori H said...

Will records always fascinate me. I have been lucky enough to find some original hndwritten records of the auctions of property of deceased ancestors. Thanks for sharing!