Monday, September 27, 2010

Amanuensis Monday - Will of Jonathan Keyes (1722-1781)

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."

The subject today is the probate file of Jonathan Keyes (1722-1781) of Westford, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, one of my 5th great-grandfathers.

Jonathan Keyes died testate, and his extensive probate papers are in Middlesex County Probate Records, Packet #13,192 (accessed on FHL Microfilm 0,416,784). He wrote his last will and testament on 21 July 1777. It reads:

"In the Name of God Amen, I Jonathan Keyes of Westford in the County of Middlesex and State of the Massachusetts Bay in New England Husbandman being of sound disposing mind and memory, thanks to God therefor but calling to Mind the Frailty & Mortality of my body and knowing that it is appointed for all Men ones to die, do make and Ordain this my last Will and Testament.

"First and above all I Give and Recommend my Soul Into the hands of God that gave it and my Body to the Earth to be buried in a decent Manner at the discretion of my Executor hereafter named nothing doubting but at the General Resurrection I Shall receive the same again by the Almighty power of God.

"And Touching Such Worldly Estate as I am now or Shall hereafter be possessed of I give bequeath and dispose of in the following way and manner.

"First my will is and I order that all my Just Debts & Funeral Charge shall be paid &c and then my legacies &c by my Exector hereafter named.

"Also I give and bequeath to my well beloved Wife Elizabeth Keyes the Improvement of one Third part of my place where I now dwell (Commonly called Long Sought for) with the use and Improvement of Two good cows & one Horse kind to use at her discretion during her Widdowhood to be provided her by my Executor here after named, also I give and bequeath to my said wife all the Household furniture she brought to me to be to her her heirs and assigns forever.

"Also I give her the use and Improvement of one Third part of all my Buildings on the Premises and in the Cellar under the Dwelling House so long as She shall remain my Widdow, and in case She shall see cause to Marry after my Decease that my Executor Shall pay her Twenty Pounds Lawfull Money in three months after marriage & at Marriage to quit the Premises with all her Household furniture that is to say to have the liberty to carry away all her furniture Cloathing &c at Marriage & the use & Improvements of the premises & the Cows & Horse kind to cease as to her after that time & this is so to be understood & my will is that it shall be deemed to be her full Dower out of my Estate Marry or not.

"Also I give and bequeath to my Eldest Son Joseph Keyes one Pound Ten Shillings Lawfull Money to be paid him by my Executor in Twelve Months after my Decease and this with what I have heretofore given and done for him is his full double portion out of my Estate.

"Also my will is and I do hereby order and Impower my Executor hereafter named to make sale of all my land & Buildings at Francis Hill & my outlands at Flushing so called in Westford aforesaid & to give good and legal titles of the same to any Person or Persons that shall appear to purchase the same (if the same are not sold by me in my lifetime) to Enable him my said Executor to pay my just debts and Funeral Charge & my legacies to my children & my sd Wife in Case she should marry &c.

"Also I give and bequeath to my youngest son Jonathan Keyes Jun^r all my lands and Buildings where I now dwell called Long Sought For as aforesaid to Wit the other two thirds not bequeathed to my wife as aforesaid during her widowhood & after her decease or Intermarriage the other Third that is to say the Whole of my Intrest in all the Lands & Buildings at Long Sought For & he complying with what I have hereafter ordered to be done as to ye distribution of my Estate to and among my other Children to Wit Joanna Keyes Elizabeth Keyes Hannah Keyes Lydia Keyes Lucy Keyes Miriam Keyes Pattee Keyes & Frances Grant Keyes.

"Also my Will is and I do order my Executor to cause a True and Just appraisal to be made and an inventory Taken of all my Real and Personal Estate after my decease that I Shall die seized and possessed of and if my lands & Buildings &c at Francis Hill and Flushing are not sold at the time of my decease I order my Executor to sell them for the most they will fetch & then after he has so done after my just debts & funeral charges are paid to make an Estimate of the remainder of my Estate both Real & Personal (omitting ye one pound Ten shillings I have order to be paid to my Eldest Son Joseph Keyes) and the one Third of my Real Estate & the two Cows and one Horse kind I have willed to my wife, & when my said Executor has so done then to pay Each of my Daughters before named to wit Joannah Elizabeth Hannah Lydia Lucy Miriam Pattee & Frances Grant after the rate of Thirteen Pounds Six Shillings & Eight pence out of Every Fifty Three pounds Six Shillings & Eight pence out of my estate and my will is & I do order that in case my personal Estate after my Lands at Francis Hill & Flushing are sold as aforesaid shall be sufficient to pay off my Daughters as aforesaid to wit Thirteen Pounds Six Shillings & Eight pence per piece or more then my will is that my son Jonathan Keys Shall have & Enjoy the Two Thirds of my lands & buildings at Long Sought For as aforesaid and in case their should not prove to be personal Estate to pay each of my Daughters as aforesaid if my said son shall make up & pay the remained to them as aforesaid then the said two thirds of the premises aforesaid to be to him his heirs & assigns forever but in case my said son Jonathan shall refuse to pay as aforesaid then my will is & I do order my said Executor to make sale of the said two thirds & to give good & authentick deeds of the same and then to make a distribution of the same to and among my said Daughters& my said son Jonathan as aforesaid to wit to my said son Jonathan after the rate & proportion of Thirty four Pounds out of every Fifty Three pounds Six Shillings & eight pence, & my said Daughters after the rate of Thirteen Pounds Six Shillings and Eight Pence per piece as aforesaid that is to say & my will is my said son Jonathan to have Three times as much as each of my Daughters and Each of my Daughters one forth as much as my said son Jonathan & my will is that in case any of my said Daughters should die & leave issue their heirs to have the same part & proportion out of my Estate as their Mothers if living and in case any of them die without issue then my Estate to be divided as before the Daughter surviving to have each one Quarter part to & that my son Jonathan & he to have Three forth more than each of them & after my Wifes decease my will is and I do order that the other Third be divided to and among said Daughters their heirs &c & my said son Jonathan as aforesaid but in case my said son Jonathan see cause to keep the Thirds and pay my said Daughters their heirs &c according to the proportions as aforesaid that the Thirds shall after my sd wifes decease be apprised at he shall have the liberty so to do & then the said Thirds to be to him his heirs & assigns forever & in case my sd wife should marry after my Decease & my sd son shall pay her the aforesaid sum of Twenty pounds as aforesaid and after that sum is paid her & then pay my sd Daughters their parts & proportions of the remained of the value of said Thirds in proportion as aforesaid then the said Thirds to be to him his heirs & assigns forever but in case my said son shall refuse in Either case then my will is & I do order my said Executor to make sale of the same & pay the Twenty pounds to my widow as aforesaid and make distribution to & among my said Daughters their heirs &c & my said son Jonathan in proportion as aforesaid.

"And my Will is & I do order that in case my said son Jonathan shall die and leave no issue that then his part out of my Estate shall be divided to & among my said Daughters their heirs &c and my said son Joseph his heirs &c in equal shares &c, and this with what I have heretofore done for and Given to my said son Jonathan & my said Daughters is each of their full parts & portion out of my Estate.

"And I do hereby Constitute and appoint my Trusty & well beloved Friend Timothy Prescott of Westford aforesaid yeoman my sole Executor to this my last Will and Testament hereby disannulling all former wills & bequests by me heretofore made and Given Ratifying and Confirming this & this only to be my last Will and Testament In Witness whereof I the said Jonathan Keyes the Testator have hereunto set my hand and seal this Twenty first day of July Anno Dom. 1777.

"Signed Sealed Published Pronounced
and Declared be the same Jonathan .................................... Jonathan Keyes
Keyes to be his last Will & Testament
In Presence of us --
Ephraim Wright
Nathan Wright
Caleb Trowbridge."

On 17 September 1781, the heirs petitioned the Court:

"To the Honourable Oliver Prescott Esq. Judg of probate for the county of Middlesex, We the subscribers heirs to the Estate of Jonathan Keyes Late of Westford Deceased agree to have the will past by and desire that Mr. Timothy Prescott may be put in Administrator for said Estate. Westford, September 17, 1781.
..................................................... her
.............................................. Betty + Keyes
..................................................... mark
........................................... Joseph Keyes
......................................... Zechariah Hildreth
.............................................. Uriah Pike
............................................ Joanna Page
.......................................... Jonathan Keyes"

On the same paper,

"This to let your Honnour know that the widdow desires that Mr. Nathanel Bointon Mt Thomas Read Mr Timothy Spaulding Should be appointed to set out her third and all parties consent."

On 19 September 1781, the heirs at law petitioned the Court:

"Know all men by these presents, that we Joseph Keyes, yeoman, Joanna Keyes spinster, Uriah Pike yeoman & Hannah his wife, all of Westford, & Zechariah Hildreth of Townsend yeoman & Elizabeth his wife, all of the County of Middlesex & Commonwealth of Massachusetts & heirs at law to the estate of Jonathan Keyes late of said Westford yeoman deceased & Zaccheus Wright of said Westford Esq. guardian for the said Jonathan's six children under the age of Twenty one years, do agree with each other to request the Hon-ble Judge of Probate &c for said County to set aside & disallow the said deceased's last will & Testament on account of the many Inconsistencies in it which render it unintelligible & impossible to be executed, and that he will be pleased to appoint Timothy Prescott of said Westford yeoman to be administrator of the said Deceased's estate. And to issue a commission for setting of his widow's dower. And whereas it appears to have been the intention of the said deceased that his son Jonathan should have a larger share of his estate than either of his daughters we do further agree that the said Jonathan shall have as much land set to him by the Commissioners to be appointed as aforesaid for setting off the said widows dower as shall be equall to double the share of any one of the daughters in the said deceaseds whole estate, & that the widow's dower be made subservient to that end, the widow having agreed to relinquish her right to the improvement of such part of her dower as shall be sufficient for the purpose, so that the said Jonathan is to be put into immediate possession of his part, provided that the said Commissioners shall run the division lines in such manner as to make the least possible interference between the said Jonathan's part & the rest of the estate. And in order to ascertain a daughter's share in the said estate, We the above named parties do agree to account for all such items of money, lands, or other estate as were advanced to either of us as part or portion by the said Deceased in his lifetime. And the said Joseph being the deceased's eldest son agrees to rest satisfied with such share of the estate as shall be equal to what by this agreement is to be set to the said Jonathan.

"In witness whereof we hereunto set our hands & seals, this ninettenth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred & Eighty one, five interlineations being first made.

"Signed & sealed in ............................................ Joseph Keyes
presence of ..................................................... Zechariah Hildreth
Jon^a Eames .................................................... Zach^s Wright
James Winthrop"

On 19 September 1781, the Judge of the Probate Court ordered that the will be set aside and declared it null and void, and that the estate be settled in every respect according to law as an intestate estate, as if the will had not been written.

Timothy Prescott was appointed Administrator of the estate of Jonathan Keyes, late of Westford, yeoman on 19 September 1781. Timothy Prescott, yeoman of Westford as principal, Nathaniel boyneton, gentleman of Westford, Joseph Keyes, clothier of Westford, posted bond of 50,000 pounds.

Nathaniel Boynton, Thomas Read and Timothy Spaulding, gentlemen of Westford, were appointed and empowered to take an inventory on 19 September 1781 of the estate of Jonathan Keyes, late of Westford.

In a separate document, these three were also named to be the Commissioners to divide the estate according to the heirs agreement and the Court's order.

An extensive inventory of the estate of Jonathan Keyes, late of Westford, was taken by Nathaniel Boynton, Thomas Read and Timothy Spaulding on 1 October 1781. The personal estate was apprised to be 147 pounds, 13 shillings, 3 pence. The real estate was appraised on 5 October 1781 by the three appraisers. The real estate inventory totalled 797 pounds.

This will, and the actions taken by the heirs to make it null and void, is interesting.  The heirs state that is is inconsistent and unable to be unintelligible and unable to be executed.

Heirs mentioned in the will and in the affidavits presented after the will include:

*  wife Elizabeth ("Betty") Keyes (she is the second wife of Jonathan Keyes)
*  eldest son Joseph Keyes (born 1746 by his first wife)
*  youngest son Jonathan Keyes (born 1763 by his second wife) 
*  daughter Joanna Keyes (born 1757 by his first wife)
*  Elizabeth Keyes (born 1759 by his first wife)
*  Hannah Keyes (born 1761 by his first wife)
*  Lydia Keyes (born 1765 by his second wife)
*  Lucy Keyes (born 1765 by his second wife)
*  Miriam Keyes (born 1767 by his second wife)
*  Pattee Keyes (born 1769 by his second wife)
*  Frances Grant Keyes (born 1771 by his second wife)

I will save the inventory and the distribution of the estate for another post. 

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