Monday, April 18, 2011

Amanuensis Monday - the Will of Nathaniel Knowlton (1658-1726) of Ipswich, Massachusetts

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 will of Nathaniel Knowlton (1658-1726) of Ipswich, Essex County, Massachusetts.  Nathaniel Knowlton married Deborah Jewett (1664-1743) in 1682, and they had seven children:  Nathaniel knowlton (1683-1760); John Knowlton (1685-1760); Joseph Knowlton (1687-????); Thomas Knowlton (1692-1718); Abraham Knowlton (1699-1751); Elizabeth Knowlton (1702-1776); David Knowlton (1707-1737).

The will of Nathaniel Knowlton was dated 25 July 1726, and proved 21 October 1726 (Essex County [Massachusetts] Probate Records, Docket 16,089, also in Essex County Probate Records, Volume 315, page 404, accessed on FHL Microfilm 0,875,129).  The will reads:

"In the Name of God Amen the twenty fifth Day of July 1726 I Nathll Knowlton of Ipswich in ye County of Essex Cordwainer being sick & weak in body but of Reasonable understanding and Disposeing mind not Knowing how it May Please all mighty God to deal with me as to this life Do Make and Ordain this my Last Will & Testament that is to say Principally and first of all, I give and Recomend my Soul into the hands of God who gave itt and my body to a Deacent and Christian Buriall att ye Discretion of my Execr nothing Doubting but att the General Resurection I Shall Receive ye Same again by the Mighty Power of God.  And as touching such Worldly Estate wherewith it Pleased God to bless me in this Life after my funerall Charges and all my Just Debts are Paid by my Execr hereafter named, I Give and Dispose of in Manner & form following.

"Impr.  I give unto my beloved Wife Deborah all my Personall Estate (Excepting my Silver Tankard) to be att her Disposall And all my Real Estate that shall remain after my debts are paid Dureing her Naturall Life.  I also give unto her ye Disposall of a Wood Lott in Rowley Division containing about nine acres among her Children as Shee shall think Convenient.

"Item  I Give to my Son Nathaniell after my Wifes Decease (upon his giving a final Discharge to my Estate) one New Common Right.  As also two acres and fifty seven rods of Mowing and Tillage Land out of my Lott in Mannings Neck on ye Lower side of said lott Running through ye Lott next ye way sold Danll Smith.  The whole of my marsh lott in ye Hundred Marsh next Rowley River, But if he shall refuse to give Discharge to my Estate then my that he shall have Ten shillings paid him by my Executor in full of his Portion.

"Item  I Give to my son John, after my Wifes decease - one Quarter part of my Portion on the Town Hill one half of my Marsh Lot att Ready Marsh, as also half an acre of my lott in Mannings Neck.

"Item  I Give unto my son Abraham, after my Wifes decease one Quarter Part of my Pasture on ye Town Hill as also ye free use of my well with a suitable way to Pass and Repass in, he being att halfe ye Charge in Keeping the same in Repair.

"Item  I Give unto my Daughter Hart Seventy Pounds in Bills of Creditt, to be paid by my Executors out of my Estate over and above what shee hath Received, as also my Silver Tankard to her and her heirs of her body.  And if shee dye without heirs of her Body then I give the said Tankard to my son Abraham.

"Item.  I give unto my son David after my wifes decease my Mansion House with the Homested thereto belonging with ye Old and Largest Barn standing att the corner of my Son Abrahams Land, with halfe ye Barn Yard adjoyning to said Barn as itt Shall be Divided best to accommodate both Barns as heretofore hath been Reserved in my Deed of Gifft to my son Abraham.  Three acres of my Lott in Mannings Neck running through said Lott from End to End next adjoyning to my son Nathlls Part before given.  One Quarter of my Pasture on ye Town Hill and one halfe of my lott in Ready Marsh.

"Lastly I Do hereby Constitute and appoint my beloved wife Deborah to be my Sole Executrix to whom I do give full Power and authority to Make sales of that Part of my Estate wch is not mentioned in this my Will nor otherwise disposed of the better to enable her to Discharge my Debts but if itt should not appear necessary to make sale of ye whole of those my lands not given away then such part as shall remain shall att the Death of my Wife be equally divided among our Surviving Children and further my Will is yt my Wife should dye before she hath compleated her Executorship that my two sons Abraham & David should be and I do hereby appoint them to be joynt Executors to this my Last Will & Testament to Execute what Part of my Will that shall remain not fulfilled.  And I do hereby utterly disalow null and make void all and Every former Will Testament or Legacy bequest or Executors by me in any wayes before named Willed and bequeathed Ratifying and confirming this and no other to be my Last Will and Testament In Wittness whereof I have hereunto sett my hand and seal ye Day and Year above written.

"Signed Sealed Published and Declared by ............................ Nathll Knowlton (seal)
Nathaniell Knowlton aforesd to be his Last
Will & Testament in Presence of us
John Dennis  Thomas Dennis  John Staniford."

The will was proved and allowed by the Court at Ipswich on 21 October 1726, with witnesses John Staniford, John Dennis and Thomas Dennis all making oath that they were present when Nathaniel Knowlton, late of Ipswich deceased, signed, sealed, published and declared the above written instrument to be his Last Will and Testament.

Five children are named in the will - Joseph and Thomas are not named.  I know that Thomas died in 1718 and must not have left any children.  I don't have a death date for the son Joseph, but it must have been before 1726, and perhaps was soon after his birth. 

I have only the will from this probate packet because I searched the FHL microfilms to find it.  The other papers in the probate packet may shed some light on the children, and the widow Deborah Knowlton may have her own probate records since she apparently retained the real estate. 

My ancestry is through the eldest son, Nathaniel Knowlton (1683-1760), although I have absolutely no records for him for some reason.  I have not looked for land records or town records for him, and have not found any printed material about him. 

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