Monday, August 2, 2010

Amanuensis Monday - the will of Elizabeth (Prescott) Hildreth (1734-1812)

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 of Elizabeth (Prescott) Hildreth (1734-1812), widow of Zachariah Hildreth (1728-1784), whose will we posted last week. Elizabeth married Zachariah Hildreth on 12 April 1753 in Westford, Middlesex County, Massachusetts and died 1 May 1812 in Westford, 28 years after her husband died. They had 12 children, but not all lived to adulthood.

Elizabeth Hildreth of Westford, widow of Zachariah Hildreth, died testate, and her probate records are in Middlesex County [MA] Probate Records, Packet #11,315 (on FHL Microfilm 0,397,093). The will reads:

"In the name of GOD amen. I Elizabeth Hildreth of Westford in the County of Middlesex and Commonwealth of Massachusetts widow of sound and perfect mind and memory do make and publish this my last will and testament in manner and form following to wit; first I order my executor herein after named to pay all my just debts and the expenses of my decent burial after my decease.

"Second I give and bequeathe to my daughters to wit, Hannah Hildreth, Esther Brown, Lucy Whiting, Ruthy Hildreth, Ede Hildreth and Hitty Adams all my wearing apparrel equally to be divided among them. I further give and bequeath to my daughter Ede Hildreth two cows, two beds and bedding and all my household furniture.

"Third I give and devise to William Whiting my son in Law four acres of wood land more or less situate in the northerly part of said Westford called tar kiln hill, to have and to hold the said land to the said Whiting his heirs and assigns forever in fee simple.

"Fourth I order my executors hereinafter named to give up to my son Timothy Hildreth a note which I hold against him being for twenty one dollars on interest and also to give up to the children of Jonas Hildreth deceased a note which I hold Signed by the said Jonas for one hundred and sixty seven dollars on interest.

"Fifth I give and bequeathe to my sons Zachariah Hildreth and John Hildreth one dollar each, to be paid to them by my executors after my decease.

"And lastly as to all the residue of my estate of every kind, after the payment of all legacies and charges herein appointed to be paid, I give and bequeathe to my said daughter Ede Hildreth.

"I hereby appoint the aforenamed William Whiting sole executor of this my last will and testament hereby revoking all former wills by me made.

"In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand seal the first day of August in the year of our Lord one thousand eighty hundred and eight.

"Signed Sealed published and declared by the above
named Elizabeth Hildreth to be her last will and ................. her
testament in the presence of us, who at her request Elizabeth + Hildreth (seal)
and in her presence have hereunto subscribed our ............. mark
names as witnesses to the same.
John Abbot
Wm Nichols, Jr
Ezra Prescott"

The will of Elizabeth Hildreth, late of Westford, was presented to the Judge of Probate by William Whiting on 26 May 1812, 30 days after her decease. He refused to accept or take on the trust of executor.

There are no other papers in the probate packet. It is not known who, if any person, was appointed administrator of this estate, or if the estate was distributed according to the will.

From this will, we learn that nine of Elizabeth Hildreth's children are living when she wrote it on 1 August 1808, and that her son Jonas Hildreth was deceased and left children (Jonas died 14 January 1808 in Westford, and this may be why Elizabeth wrote a will). The nine living children are (in order mentioned in the will):

* Hannah Hildreth (1758-1838), wife of Timothy Hildreth
* Esther Brown (1760-????), wife of Thomas Brown
* Lucy Whiting (1764-1845), wife of William Whiting
* Ruthy Hildreth (1768-1929), wife of Abel Hildreth
* Edy Hildreth (1771-1819), died unmarried.
* Hitty Hildreth (1775-1819), wife of Joseph Adams
* Timothy Hildreth - it is unclear if this is her son Timothy (1760-????), or Timothy Hildreth, the husband of her daughter Hannah Hildreth. I think it's the latter, but have no further information.
* Zachariah Hildreth (1754-1828), married Elizabeth Keyes in 1777.
* John Hildreth - there is no John Hildreth in the list of the children of Zachariah and Elizabeth (Prescott) Hildreth, but there is a Jesse Hildreth (1773-1840) still living in 1808. Jesse married Olive Fletcher in 1801.

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