Monday, January 9, 2012

Amanuensis Monday - the will of Robert Gifford (1660-1730) of Dartmouth, Massachusetts

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 will of Robert Gifford (1660-1730) of Dartmouth, Bristol County, Massachusetts.   He married (1) Sarah Wing (1659-1720) in 1680, and they had children:  Jeremiah Gifford (1681-1771); Marcy Gifford (1683-1772); Benjamin Gifford (1685-1754); Stephen Gifford (1687-1748); Rebecca Gifford (1689-1747); Timothy Gifford (1691-1780); Ann Gifford (1693-????); Lydia Gifford (1695-????); Simeon Gifford (1697-1749).  Robert Gifford married (2) Elizabeth Cornell (????-????) after 1720; no children.

Robert Gifford of Dartmouth died testate before 30 April 1730, after writing a will dated 25 March 1724.  The will reads (transcribed from the Bristol County (Massachusetts) Probate Records, Volume 7, Page 28, accessed on FHL Microfilm 0,461,883):

"In the Name of God, Amen: This Twenty fifth day of March in the year of our Lord 1724 and in the Tenth year of the Reign of our soverigne Lord George by the Grace of God of Grait Brittain &c.  I Robert Gifford of Dartmouth in the County of Bristoll in the Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England, Yeoman, being Desirous to settle my house in order and being of a Disposing mind and memory, Do make and ordaine this my Last will and Testament:  I Commit my Soul into the hands of God that Gave it and my body to the Earth After my decease to be buried at the Discrestion of my Executor: and as to.... my worldly Estate I Dispose of the same in the following manner and form.

"Imp. I Give and Bequeath to Elizabeth my well beloved Wife fourty shillings a year yearly to be paid by my Executor During her Continuing my widdow.

"Item -  My will is that my Executor pay all my just debts & funerall charges out of my moveable Estate.

"Item - I give my son Jeremiah one Sedge flatt (?) lying in Dartmouth ... called and known by the Name of the Dye Lott to him & his heirs & assignes forever, and fourty Pounds in such money as shall Pay from man to man at the time of Payment or yt shall hereafter in this Instruments order.

"Item - I Give to my son Benjamin besides what I have already given him the sum of Ten Pounds in the like manner as my son Jeremiah.

"Item - I give to my son Stephen the forth part of my Cedar Swamp in sd Dartmouth to be to him his heires and assignes forever: and Twenty pounds in money in the like manner as Jeremiah.

"Item - I give to my son Timothy one flatt (?) called one acre of Sedge flatt (?) laid out for me by Draught of Lands dated the first day of June 1714 signed by Benjamin Hammond & Benjamin Crane Sur..... on the same said acre as thene bounded be it more or less lying in said Dartmouth the same to him his heires and assignes forever: and fourty pounds money in the like manner as my son Jeremiah.

"Item - I give to my son Simeon whome I do constitute Sole Executor of this my Last will and Testament all my homestead and housing upon the same and all my Land and meadow in a Place called the high Neck in said Dartmouth to him his heires and assignes forever:  Upon condition of his Paying those sums of money above Expressed in manner following that is to say: To my wife Elezebeth the yearly sum of fourty shillings and the other sums at Ten Pounds a year and that to be divided among the said Children abovesaid in Proportion to the sums each one is to have till all ye above said hundred and ten pounds be paid, and to begin his payment of one year after my Decease; also I give to my said son Simeon that Parcel of Land that I have not Disposed of Adjoyning to my son Benjamin homestead he paying one shilling a piece to my Grandchildren & Twenty shillings to my Grandaughter Experience (?) daughter to Benjamin also he to have two good feather beds & furniture and all the iron and brass utensils in the house.

"Finally, my will is that all other Estate that I shall dye ceased of & .... belongs to me which I have not before disposed of wether of Lands or moveables my will is that it be equally divided between my five sons and I do hereby Confirm this my Last will and Testament and hearby make void and any other will by me heretofore made.

"Signed Sealed Published & Declared by Robert Gifford ..........................  Robert Gifford
as his Last will and Testament in Presence of us
Elisha Wing
Icabod Nye
Jabez Heller
Timothy Ruggles"

The witnesses made an oath on 30 April 1730 in the Probate Court at Bristol that they had witnessed the signing of the will of Robert Gifford of Dartmouth, deceased, and that he was of a sound and disposing mind.

The probate records include an incomplete inventory that totals over 257 pounds.  The inventory was presented to the Court by executor, Simeon Gifford, on 30 April 1730. 

There are extensive records in Bristol County, Massachusetts for land transactions between Robert Gifford and his brother Christopher, with his sons, and with other persons. 

All five sons are named in the will above receiving more from the estate.  The widow, Elizabeth, is also mentioned and receives monetary support from the estate.  No daughters are mentioned.  Marcy (Gifford) Soule, RebeccaSoule, Ann (Gifford) Swan and Lydia (Gifford) Soule were all alive when their father wrote his will, but they are not mentioned in the will.  Perhaps they received a portion of their father's property when they married. 

My ancestry is through daughter Rebecca, wife of Jacob Soule (1687-1747) of Dartmouth, Massachusetts.

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Copyright (c) Randall J. Seaver, 2012.

1 comment:

SM said...

Very interesting. I am related through Stephen Gifford. You mention there are extensive records of land transactions. Perhaps those could lead me further back beyond Robert Gifford. Thanks for the info.