Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A probate puzzle, or someone actually reads my posts

In my post Amanuensis Monday - the Will of Reuben Waite (1656-1707) of Dartmouth, Mass. (posted 11 January 2012), I wrote:

"Reuben Waite of Dartmouth died testate, having written a will dated 11 September 1707, which was probated on 5 November 1707 at the Court in Bristol."

However the will itself in the Bristol County [Massachusetts] Probate Records (Volume 2, Pages 187-8, accessed on FHL Microfilm 0,461,882) says it was written 11 October 1707, and a later record says the inventory was taken on 10 October 1707.  Here are the images of the will and inventory from the Probate Court records:

Reader (and Waite cousin) Dave actually read and analyzed the transcription in my blog post, and emailed me saying:

"...I am puzzled by the dates.  His will is dated 11 Oct and his inventory is dated 10 Oct and you state his will was written 11 Sep.  I have checked Dartmouth Vital Records and his death is not there. Where is his death recorded, how did his inventory come before the date on his will and when did he die?"

Several good questions, and worthy of discussing.  I found the will in my bookcase (that was a challenge!) and found that the date the will was written was 11 October 1707.  The copy of the will that I have is a court clerk's copy, not the original handwritten will.  The court clerk may not have transcribed this date accurately - it may well be 11 September 1707.  If that is the case, then the inventory date of 10 October (if transcribed correctly) may be soon after the death date.  That would explain why the inventory date is before the written will date.  

I had a death date of 7 October 1707 in Dartmouth, Massachusetts in my database, without a source citation.  I probably obtained that from published materials, and most likely from the report at http://www.waitegenealogy.org/FGS/top.pdf, which lists that date (with three sources being records of three different persons - no original sources listed).  I have changed that death date in my database to one that I am sure of - "Before 5 November 1707" which is when the will was proved by the Probate Court, with a source of the Bristol County Probate Court record..

My thanks to Dave for actually reading and analyzing the will - I wish more readers did that.  He was correct - the text of the will says it was written on 11 October.  I sincerely doubt that this is the only error that I've made in transcribing and analyzing the records of my ancestors!

The Amanuensis Monday posts are one way that I can share my research and help educate readers as to the importance of transcribing and analyzing original source records (or their record copies and/or image copies).  I transcribed most of them over the past 15 years and entered them into the General Notes in my genealogy software program.  I have photocopies of most of the records that I post for Amanuensis Monday but I have only recently been digitizing them.  

The URL for this post is:  http://www.geneamusings.com/2012/09/a-probate-puzzle-or-someone-actually.html

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

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