Monday, March 28, 2011

Amanuensis Monday - Norman Seaver's Probate Records

Genea-blogger John Newmark (who writes the excellent TransylvanianDutch blog) started a 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 intestate probate packet of Norman Seaver (1734-1787), who died in Westminster, Worcester County, Massachusetts.  Norman married Sarah Read in 1755 in Sudbury, and they had 13  children:  Eunice Seaver (1755-1810); Benjamin Seaver (1757-1816); Sarah Seaver (1759-1833); Joseph Seaver (1761-????); Isaac Seaver (1763-????); Ethan Seaver (1765-1823); Daniel Seaver (1767-????); Heman Seaver (1769-1835); Luther Seaver (1771-????); Leafe Seaver (1774-1795); Asahel Read Seaver (1775-1849); Faitha Seaver (1777-????); and Lucinda Seaver (1780-1844).

I have summarized, rather than transcribed, the documents in the probate packet.  Norman Seaver, gentleman of Westminster, died intestate.  His probate docket (Worcester County Probate Records, Probate Packet 52,914) includes the following documents:

1) On 25 Sep 1787, Widow Sarah Sever was appointed administratrix of the estate, and bond in the amount of 2000 pounds was given by William Edgell and Josiah Puffer, sureties (Worcester County Probate Records, 179.530, LDS Microfilm 0,860,627). 

2)  On 28 Sep 1787 a Warrant of Appraisal was given for an inventory to be taken. (Worcester County Probate Records, 21.487, LDS Microfilm 0,856,285). 

3)  On 21 Oct 1788 the Account Balance of 150 pounds 19 shillings was allowed (Worcester County Probate Records, 22.139, LDS Microfilm 0,856,286).

4)  On 21 Oct 1788 a Warrant for partition of the estate was issued to William Edgell, Josiah Puffer and Edward Jackson (Worcester County Probate Records, 24.263, LDS Microfilm 0,856,314).  They found the home place with buildings and land comprised 106 acres lying in Westminster.  An additional 3 acres were held in common with Timothy Heywood, Samuel Miller, and William Murdock, all of Westminster. 

5)   In 1791, the inventory was recorded, with Real estate 215 pounds and personal estate of 159 pounds,19 shillings and 9 pence.  The real estate included the 106 acre house lot with buildings (212 pounds) and a piece of land in common with Timothy Heywood and Samuel ??? and William Murdock (3 pounds) (Worcester County Probate Records, 24.370, LDS Microfilm 0,856,314).

6)  On 3 Jan 1792, the Account balance of 3 pounds, 13 shillings and 9 pence was allowed and distribution to the heirs was ordered (Worcester County Probate Records, 24.358, LDS Microfilm 0,856,314).   Heirs named in the distribution are:

widow Sarah Seaver (1/3 dower right)
son Benjamin Sever (2/3 real estate + double portion)
son Isaac Sever,
son Ethan Sever,
son Daniel Sever,
son Heman Sever,
son Luther Sever,
son Asel Sever,
daughter Eunice Whitney (wife of Elisha Whitney)
daughter Sarah Cutter (wife of Josiah Cutter),
daughter Relief Sever,
daughter Faithfull Sever,
daughter Lucinda Sever

7)  In the distribution, son Benjamin Sever was awarded his double portion of 22 pounds and was ordered to pay the other children their equal share of 11 pounds each. (Worcester County Probate Records, 24.358, LDS Microfilm 0,856,314).

On 3 January 1792, Sarah Seaver was appointed guardian for daughters Feathe and Lucenden Seaver, while Samuel Gerrish was appointed guardian for Asel and Relief Seaver (Worcester County Probate Records, Probate Packet 52,863).

Twelve of the thirteen children of Norman and Sarah (Read) Seaver are named in the distribution of the estate, so we know that those twelve are living in 1787.  The one missing is the son Joseph, who must have died before 1787.  I have found no other record for him besides his birth record. 

The married surnames of two daughters are also provided, but the four youngest daughters have not married yet. 

The lesson learned with records like this is that the children of the intestate deceased person are almost always named in the probate records if there is real estate or significant personal estate to be divided up.  The widow received her 1/3 share of the home lot, and I believe that she lived on it with her minor children and her son Benjamin, who received the other 2/3 of the home lot but had to pay his siblings a sum of money (a 1/13 share of the estate after the widow's third was accounted for).  The 1/13 share comes about from the 12 children and Benjamin received a double share for being the oldest son. 

Norman Seaver is my fifth great-grandfather, and I descend through the eldest son, Benjamin Seaver.

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