Monday, May 18, 2020

Amanuensis Monday - 1698 Will of John Walker (1665-1699) of Woburn, Mass.

This week's document for transcription is the 1698 will of John Walker (1665-1699) of Woburn, Massachusetts, in Probate Packet 23,579 in the Middlesex County, Massachusetts probate court records.  

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The transcription of this will is:

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"In the name of god Amen ---

"I John Walker jun'r of Woobourne in the County of Midd'x in his Maj'ts pro-
vince of the Massatusets Bay in New England Tayler, being Attended with Ill-
ness and infirmety of body, but of gods mercey of Sound Understanding and perfect 
memory, and knowing it to be A Christian Duty for a man to Sett his 
hous in ord'r, I do therfore make and publish this wrighting my last 
Will and testament, and first I give my soule to god that gave it me 
and my body to the Earth to be decently buryed, in hopes of A Glorious 
Resurection to life againe, thro' Christ Jesus my lord and only Saviour, 
and as to that portion of temperall Estate y't y'e Almighty god hath 
of his bounty bestowed on me, I do give and bequeath as followeth.

"Impri's.  my Will is that all my Just debts be fully payd and my funerall Charges 
defrayed, out of my personall Estate, before any division be made, and 
in particular that debt of Eighty-eight pounds due to my Hon'd father 
Decon Sam'll Walker by bond, the particulars whereby it arises due, are 
in my Book, y'e debts being payd then,

"2ly.  my Will is & I do give unto my beloved Wife Ruth, the one halfe of 
my Moveable Estate when y'e debts and charges are taken out as afors'd 
in such things as are suitable for her, to be to her selfe and at her own 
dispose for ever, also I do give to my said Wife one Roome in my dwell-
ing-hous namely y'e chamber, with a Chimney in it, together with A 
third part of my seller, and a liberty to Improve the ovens when she 
hath ocasion for y'm, and also a liberty for watter in y'e well, and one third 
part of my barne and out housing, all which is above one third of my 
housing, also one third part of all my plowlands pasterlands hop-ground 
meadows and Woodlands, to be Sett out to her by my Exec'r herein after 
named, to lye as well together as may be with Convenience, at the discre-
tion of my Exec'r, and this part of housing and lands I do give to my 
said wife for terme of life only, y't is to say dureing the terme of 
her naturall life, and then to Returne to my Children, only If 
my said wife pleaseth to quittclaime the said housing and lands 
for the use of them to whome I give them, namely to my Children, or 
in Case of their death, to them that shall leagaly represent them 
then If she do leagely quittclaime the same, I do give her the sum 
of sixty pounds to be pay'd her by my Exec'r out of my Estate, and 
if my personal Estate be not sufficient to do it, then my Exec'r shall 
have liberty to sell som of my lands to make it up, my meaning is y't 
my said wife shall have sixty pounds in all, if she quitt y'e housing and 
lands as afors'd, but not sixty pounds besides halfe y'e moveables abovs'd, this
sixty pounds if she except thereof upon y'e termes abovs'd then I give it '
her for ever to dispose of as she pleaseth.

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"3ly my ^will^ is that after all my Just debts are fully pay'd & all necessary charges defrayed
 and my wife hath her just part sett her out, and legasies to my Exec'r and 
all his charges, and for the bringing up of my children, then all the rest 
of my Estate shall be equally devided betweene my Surviving children, Except-
ing my housing that shall be delivered to my son Edward into his part, 
and to allow nothing for it in his devision, and have his land adjoyning to it 
so that he shall have A full Equall share of all my lands & other Estate 
quantity for quality and all my housing over and above, and the other child 
or children an equal part of all my lands all to them and their heirs for ever
and so for y't part of housing and lands left in my wives hands for terme
life if she accept thereof, at her decease it shall Revert to my .....
 children, y'e lands in Equal parts, and the housing to my said son over and as
all to them and their heirs for Ever, and if all my children dye in their .....
then their estate is to returne to those of my brothers and sisters children,
 namely my own naturall brothers and sisters children y't shall survive it, 
but if my s'd wife se cause to quitt y'e housing and lands and y'e rest as afors'd and take up with the
sixty pounds, then my will is that while she remain my Widow she shall enjoye the Chamber and
the ...... over it y'e garden & y'e ...... yard and one acre and halfe of Meadow, beside y'e sixty pounds.

"4ly  my Will is that my loveing Cousin George Read jun'r shall have my daughter 
Ruth to bring her up in the fear of god, and to Instruct her in what Else 
may be for her good, and to keep her while she is Eighteen years of age 
Except she Marry younger, and I do also apoint him the said George Read 
jun'r Sole Executor to this my will, and for his requitall in and for the ...
I do hereby give him fifteene pounds.

"5ly  my will is yt If my Cousin George Read jun'r dy before he have acomplished his 
Executorship, then I do hereby nominate and appoint my loveing brother 
Edward Johnson Exec'r of this my Will, he to bring in his acc't and he shall 
be pay'd for it out of my Estate, and I do give him my son Edward, to bring 
up till he be twenty one years of age, and to Instruct him in that which may 
be for his good both soul and body, and as a further Requitall I do hereby 
give my said brother twelve pounds to be pay'd out of my Estate.

"Also my will is and I do hereby give unto my Exec'r y't accepts and offisiats in the place 
full power to Exchange any of my lands while my Children are in their minority 
and to sell any of my Remote lands to pay debts or leagasies if there be need 
thereof, and give leagall deeds of the same by virtue of these presents, further 
my will is that if my s'd brother and my cousin will not take those children, then 
my Exec'r shall have full power to dispose of them as they shall think meet,

"In wittness whereof I the said John Walker jun'r have hereunto Sett my 
hand and affixed my seale this twenty first day of May, Anno Domini Sixteene 
hundred ninty-eight and in the tenth yeare of his Maj'ts Reigne Wm 3d &c, 
Signed sealed and published by John Walker Jun'r to be his last will and testament 
before us,
Abigail Foster h  her mark
Jabez Brooks                                                   John Walker jun'r (seal)
Jam's Converse"

The source citation for this probate case file is:

Middlesex County, Massachusetts, Probate case files, Packet #23,579, John Walker of Woburn, 1699 (13 images); "Middlesex County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1648-1871," indexed database and digital images, New England Historical and Genealogical Society, American Ancestors  ( : accessed 3 May 2020); Original records in Middlesex County, Massachusetts Probate Court Records, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The date of proving the will before the Probate Court is very difficult to read.  Apparently, the will was not accepted by the Court, since Ruth Walker (relict of John Walker late of Woburn tailor deceased, intestate), Thomas Read of Woburn and William Read of Cambridge posted a bond of 800 pounds and were appointed administrators of the estate on 5 June 1699.

On 4 September 1699, the court approved an inventory that Ruth Walker presented, taken by Joseph Wright, Benjamin Simonds and Jacob Wyman, that apprized the estate of John Walker at 362 pounds, 16 shillings, 6 pence.  The real estate included:

1)   a dwelling house, barn, Hillehouse and lands adjoyning (160 pounds)
2)   Meadow, meadow land and upland at Long meadow (105 pounds)
3)   one great lot and some small lots (7 pounds)

The account of the administrators was too difficult to read on the record image.

On 29 September 1700, the Court appointed Stephen Francis of Medford, Joseph Sherman of Watertown Joseph Wright, Benjamin Simonds and Jacob Wyman of Woburn to settle the distribution to the widow and children.  The distribution, dated 28 October 1700, was made by the aforementioned men.  The total estate was about 341 pounds.  The distribution is very difficult to read from the record image.  It is apparent that Ruth Walker, the widow, received land and personal property totaling over 113 pounds (her one third portion), and the two children received an equal amount each.  The widow received one half of the house and the children received the other half.  The distribution was approved by the Court on 28 October 1700.

It is unclear who became guardians of the children in the administration.  Their mother, Ruth, was probably named the personal guardian since the children were young, but I expected that someone else would have been named the legal guardian of each child to protect their legal interests.

John Walker (1665-1699) married Ruth Kendall (1675-1730) in 1691 in Woburn, Massachusetts.     They had two children:

*  Ruth Walker (1692-1752), married 1710 Josiah Wood (1687-1753).
*  Edward Walker (1694-1787), married 1718 Esther Pierce (1696-1761).

John Walker wrote his will on 21 May 1698, and died 29 April 1699 in an Indian battle at Wheelwright's Pond, Lee, New Hampshire.  Evidently, he wrote the will before he served his province.  

John and Ruth (Kendall) Walker are my 8th great-grandparents.  I descend through their daughter, Ruth Walker who married Josiah Wood, and through their daughter Susanna Wood (1724-1780), who married Nathan Reed (1719-1802) in 1743.


NOTE:  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."

Copyright (c) 2020, Randall J. Seaver

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