Monday, October 22, 2012

Amanuensis Monday - Will of John Smith (1600-1669) of Lancaster, Mass.

Genea-blogger John Newmark (who writes the excellent TransylvanianDutch blog) started his own Monday blog theme several years 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 John Smith (1600-1669) of Lancaster, Massachusetts.  John Smith married Mary --?-- before 1623 in England, and they had children:  John Smith (1623-????); Richard Smith (1625-1701); Anne Smith (1627-1671) and Alice Smith (1629-1714).

John Smith died testate. His probate records are in Middlesex County Probate Records, Probate Packet #20,654 (accessed on FHL Microfilm 0,421,520, and also transcribed in the book Middlesex County Records of Probate and Administration, March 1660/61 - December 1670, edited by Richard H. Rodgers, published by The New England Historic Genealogical Register, Boston, 2001),  His will, which was dated 12 April 1665 and was proved 27 September 1669, reads (my transcription):

"These presence testifie and declare unto all Christian people that I John Smith of Lancaster in the Countie of Midlesex in new England Planter being sicke and weake in body but of good and perfect memorie, doe by this my Last will and testament Comitt and Comend my soule to allmightie god that gave it and my body to the Comon burying place in the aforsaid Lancaster.  And as for those Lands and other goods the Lord in his mercy hath intrusted me with, it is my desir that my debts if any bee shall be paid out of them, and the Charg of my sicknes and buriall, And that my sonn John Smith shall have an old blak Cow that hath sum whit upon her Rumpe,  And it is my mind and will that my daughter Ann More shall have a Red pied cow,  And I give to my sonn Richard Smith two shillings to be paid him if he demand it and two shilling to my daughter Ales,  And furthermore I desir and also impower my beloved sonn in Law John More my sole executor to se this my Last will and testament truly and faithfully performed, unto whome I freely give the overpluse of my goods if any be.  witness my hand this twelft of the 2: mon: 1665.
..............................................................................John [mark] Smith
witness Jacob Farrer  his mark
Daniel Gaines    
Ralph Houghton"

John Moore appeared in court on 5 October 1669 and renounced his right of an executor to the will, was allowed administration on the estate, and testified that the inventory taken on the estate of John Smith, deceased, was a true one.  The inventory, taken by Jacob Farrer and Ralph Houghton,  totaled 4 pounds, 4 shillings, and included only:

*   An old cow (2 pounds)
*   Fethers and an old (bed) Covering (1 pound, 10 shillings)
*   An iron pot, old frying pan, pothooks and tramels, an old pewter Chamber pot, an old ax and an old hoe (12 shillings)
*  an old chair (2 shillings)

John Smith of Lancaster does not mention a wife - Mary, the mother of his children died in 1659 in Lancaster.  The will mentions four children, but apparently only Ann (Smith) Moore still resided in Lancaster.

I wondered why John Moore renounced his right of an executor, but was allowed administration of the estate.  It may be because "On 2 May 1669, he [John Smith] transferred all of his estate in Lancaster to John Moore with the condition that in his old age, being old and infirm, that he should keep him" (from the book The Early Records (or Annals) of Lancaster, Mass. by Henry Nourse.  I think that explains the lack of property and the sparse inventory of John Smith's estate.

My ancestry is through Anne Smith  who married John Moore and resided in Lancaster, through their daughter Anna Moore (1666-1760), who married Ephraim Hildreth (1654-1731) in 1686.

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Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

1 comment:

Susan Smith Mahoney said...

Enjoyed reading the will of John Smith, and thank you for sharing. Recent DNA tests on my brother, Michael Smith (YDNA) and autosomal DNA on myself show a connection to John. Unable to fill in the blanks from our ancestor General Washington SMITH, b. 1784, in NC but we are working hard on trying to find a paper trail. Its a wonderful history. One of our leads does show a Richard SMITH b. 1706 in our line, perhaps he is a grandson of the Richard SMITH mentioned in John's will.

Have you taken a YDNA test? My brother and I tested FamilyTreeDNA and are members of the group Smiths Worldwide, which compare all the DNA samples.

Thank you for your interesting post. Susan Smith Mahoney