Monday, June 6, 2016

Amanuensis Monday - Post 323: Widow's Dower Division for Estate of Henry Smith (1680-1743) of Medfield, Mass.

Genea-blogger John Newmark (who writes the excellent  TransylvanianDutch blog) started a Monday blog theme years ago called "Amanuensis Monday."  John offers this definition for "amanuensis:" 

"A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another."

The subject today is the 1755 widow's dower warrant and real estate division for the estate of Henry Smith (1680-1743) of Medfield, Sussex County, Massachusetts (starts near middle of left-hand page):

The transcription of this record is (transcribed line by line):

[page 190]

Suffolk Ss: By the Hon^ble Thomas Hutchinson
Esq^r Judge of Probate &c. To Henry Adams Esq^r
& Mess^rs Edward Turner, Timothy Hamant, Ezekiel
Adams & Simon Plimpton, all of Medfield in the
County afors^d & Sufficient Freeholders – Greetings.
I do hereby desire & impower you to divide & Sett off
to Ruth Smith Widow of Henry Smith late of Med-
field afores^d – Husbandman dec^d. One Third part
of her s^d Husbands Real Estate, pursuant to the
Intention of his last Will according to your best Skill
& Judgment, to w^ch you are to be Sworn before one
of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace, & you are to make
Return hereof with your doings thereon unto myself
at the Registers Office, so Soon as may be Given

[page 191]

under my Hand & Seal of Office this Tenth day of
January Anno Dom: 1755.
N.B. Before you make any Division
you are to notify all Persons Interested     T. Hutchinson
to be present if they See cause.

Suffolk Ss. Jan. 28^th 1755. Henry Adams Esq^r was
Sworn as the Law directs before J Richards Just^e Pea^ce.

Suffolk Ss April 7^th 1755. Then the above named
Edward Turner, Timothy Hamant, Ezekiel Adams
& Simon Plimpton were duly Sworn to the faithfull
& just Performance of the Service they are appoin-
ted to by the above written Warrant, as the Law
directs.       ?? me Henry Adams Jus^c of Peace.

Pursuant to a Warrant from the Hon^ble Judge of
Probate for the County of Suffolk directed to us, We
have divided or Set off to the Widow Ruth Smith, as
her Thirds, or Right of Dower, in that part of the
Real Estate of her late Husband Henry Smith
late of Medfield dec^d that was his Homestead
in manner & Form following Viz^t.
One Parcell of Land on the West Side of the Lot adjoin-
ing to the South End, bounded Eastwardly by a Stone

[page 192]

Wall, in part, & from the North End of s^d Wall by
streight Line to a heap of Stones, & a Stake, & from
thence Strait to a heap of Stones in the Edge of a Sw-
amp: then turning westward by s^d Swamp as it is
marked, till it comes to the West Side line, with
Liberty to pass & repass from s^d Widow's dwelling house
to s^d Land, to drive Cattle, Cart & Team, where it is
convenient, as often as She shall have Occasion for
the Improvement of s^d Land. Also all the Orch-
ard that lyeth on the East Side of the highway
near the House. Also a parcell of Land, part
Woodland & part improved Land, bounded
westerly on the west Line of s^d Lot, the other Bounds
beginning at the Northwest Corner of the Barn and
running Northwesterly with the Fence as it now
stands, till it comes to the Corner of s^d Fence, & from
thence Northwesterly a Strait Line by a great white
Oak marked, till it comes to the westerly Line of s^d
Lot of Homestead, also from the s^d Northwest Cor-
Ner of the Barn, the Line running Westerly with
the Fence as it now stands, till it comes to the Corner
of s^d Fence, & from thence to a black Oak marked
on both sides, then Strait by another black Oak mar-
ked till it comes to the West line of s^d home Lot
also her part of the Barn to be at the West End
with the Improvement of the Barn Floor with
the Westerly part of the yard as it is now fenced

[part 193]

with Liberty at the West End of the Barn to lay & carry
off Dung. - Medfield May 7^th 1755.
Henry Adams, Timothy Hamant, Ezekiel Adams
Simon Plimpton.

Suffolk Ss. By the Hon^ble Thomas Hutchinson Esq^r
Judge of Probate &c. The above written being
presented to me by the Subscribers as the Widows
Thirds in the Real Estate of Henry Smith dec^d as by
them Sett off. I do allow & approve thereof accord-
ingly. Boston May 19^th 1755.
                                                     T. Hutchinson
                      Ex^d. ???? Cotton Reg^r.

The source citation for this record is:

Massachusetts, Wills and Probate Records, 1635-1991, indexed database with digital images, (, Suffolk County, "Probate Records, Vol 50-51, 1755-1757," Volume 50, Pages 190-193 (images 106-107 of 825), Henry Smith widow's dower warrant and division, 1755.

There are two records here - the warrant that orders the division of the widow's dower, which appoints the subscribers, and the actual division of the real estate which is then approved by the Judge of the Probate Court.  There is no indication of the acreage, or length of the bounds, for the land set off for the widow.  The family members, and the subscribers, were familiar with the real estate involved, and were probably satisfied with the division of the land.  The subscribers were probably associates or neighbors that the family trusted.  

Now I'm wondering if there is a probate record for Ruth Smith - was this real estate owned by her, or just kept by her and then divided by her heirs when she died.  The will of Henry Smith says that they are hers to have during her natural life.


Copyright (c) 2016, Randall J. Seaver

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hi Randy,
I had been searching & searching for my sister's birth certificate and another family member for a long time. Both had been born about a year and a half from each other in 1921 and 1922 in Indianapolis, Marion, Indiana. I had tried many different spellings for each person but no matches. Finally, I tried again after seeing the updated records on your site on June 6. This time I tried a different tactic. I had the birth dates for each person and only put that in the search box along with Indianapolis, Indiana. A list of many people came up for those dates. Voila! Success! I found both records that day listed with incorrect names which of course why I was unable to find them originally. I was able to send news of the discovery of her grandfather's birth record to a distant cousin in France I found this year. Thanks again for posting your updates from ancestry and family search.