Monday, October 10, 2011

Amanuensis Monday - the Will of Thomas Pierce (1584-1667) of Charlestown MA

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 Thomas Pierce (1584-1666) of Charlestown in Massachusetts Bay Colony.  He married Elizabeth --?-- (1595-1667) in about 1610 in England, and they had seven children John Pierce (1610-????); Thomas Pierce (1617-1683); Elizabeth Pierce (1619-1692); Robert Pierce (1621-1706); Persis Pierce (1626-1683); Mary Pierce (1628-1703) and Samuel Pierce (1630-1678). 

Thomas Peirce died testate in Charlestown. His will was dated 7 November 1665, and was proved 22 March 1666/7. His probate file is in Middlesex County Probate Records, Probate Packet #17,583 (accessed on FHL Microfilm 0,421,491), and includes a will and inventory. The records are also transcribed in the book Middlesex County Records of Probate and Administration, March 1660/61 - December 1670, compiled by Robert H. Rodgers, published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston, 2001). The will reads:

"Cambridge in New England. november 7th 1665.

"I Thomas Peirce of Charlestowne, aged about eighty and two yeares, being throw the goodnes of the Lord of sound Judgement and memory and in some measure of bodily health do ordaine, and hereby declare my last Will and Testament in manner and forme following, vizt. my Soul which I do beleive is immortall I do desire humbly and believeingly to resigne it unto the father of Spirits, who gave it to mee, and to committ both body and soul unto the everlasting mercyes of God, the father, Sonne, and Holy Ghost. my body I desire it may be decently interred at the discretion of my loveing wife whome I do ordaine and make sole Excecutrix of this my Will, and for my outward estate wherewith the Lord hath graciously blessed mee, I do dispose thereof as followeth, vizt. to Harvard Colledge Twenty shillings to be payd within one yeare after my decease. To Mary Bridge, and Elizabeth Teffs, two of my Grand Children now dwelling with mee I do give 10 pounds a peece, to be payd by my Excecutrix as soone as shee can with convenience, but not to be compellable thereto for and dureing two years after my decease.

"The residue of my estate my just debts and funerall expences being first payd, I do give and bequeath unto my loveing wife Elizabeth, To have and to hold the same dureing her life, and at her pleasure to be helpfull to any of my Children as shee shall see meet in her discretion by giveding or lending to them any part thereof: and before her decease, I do give her power to make her will, and by the same to bequeath any part thereof by gift or legacy, as shee shall see meet, and after her decease such part thereof as shall be by her unexpended, and not disposed of by her before her decease. I do will and bequeath the same in manner following vizt. To all my Grand Children I do give ten groates a peece, and the remainder to be equally divided among my Children, my will is that the younger shall have equall with the eldest, I haveing formerly done for them according to my ability: finally I do nomminate my loveing friends, Mr Ri. Russell and Mr Thomas Danforth, and my sonne John Peirce overseers of this my will, by whose advice and consent of them or the more part of them I do give my Excecutrix full power to settle all my lands on such of my sonnes, as shall approve themselves in the feare of God, and duty to their aged mother, and on such conditions as they shall see meet. also I do nomminate Leift. Randall Nicholls to be added to my overseers above named, provided alwayes it is my declared will that my Excecutrix shall not alienate or dispose of any of my lands so as to deprive all my sonnes of the same, but I do give her power by the advice of my overseers as above is expressed to dispose of the whole to any one of my sonnes according to her discretion, but not to divide the same into parcells. In witnes whereof I do hereunto sett my hand and seale the day and yeare first above written.

"Sealed and declared by Thomas
Peirce above named, to be his   ......................................... Thomas Peirce [seal]
last will and testament
Before us
Jno. Shearman
Thomas Danforth
Jno. Marritt"

The widow deposed to the inventory on 22 March 1666/7, age 71 years. The real estate included the dwelling house with barn and out housing, with yards and orchards, all on a two acre lot (60 pounds); 12 acres of Great Lot (48 pounds); 8 acres in the Common Field (32 pounds); 6 acres of pasture land (20 pounds); 10 acres of marsh (30 pounds); 5 cow commons (30 pounds); a wood lot on Mystick Side (2 pounds), and 3 acres of rye seed and plowing land (1 pound, 10 shillings). The total estate was apprised at 413 pounds, 5 shillings.

Teffs (daughter of Peter and Mary (Pierce) Tufts, his wife, Elizabeth (age 71), and his oldest son, John Pierce.  It's too bad that the list of grandchildren is not included in the probate packet!  They were each to receive ten "groats" - according to Wikipedia, a groat in the 1660s was worth four pence.


Heather Wilkinson Rojo said...

Here's another cousin connection for you: Peter Tufts (husband to Mary Pierce) is my 9x great grand uncle. His sister, Mary Tufts married George Fowle and they are my 9x Great grandparents. Another piece of serendipity is that I drove my husband to Boston today (the airport) and on the way home I cut through this part of Charlestown/Medford/Somerville then called Mysticside. You can see Tufts University on top of the hill.

Unknown said...

Does "Descendants of George Fowle" (1990) say that George's wife was Mary Tufts? If not is there any recent/reliable source for this?