Thanks to John at Transylvanian Dutch who originated the Amanuensis Monday meme, providing a framework (and nudge) for transcribing family records, news clippings and other treasures.
I recently found the 1853 will of one of my favorite in-laws, my husband's ggg-great-uncle Thomas Meredith, on FamilySearch. Each time I find another trace of Uncle Thomas I am more and more impressed. This is by far the most detailed will I have come across in our families. So detailed that my notes and comments on it and its cast of thousands (only slightly exaggerated) will be another post.
Be it Known, that I, Thomas Meredith of the City of Baltimore, in the State of Maryland, being in feeble health, but of sound disposing mind, memory and understanding, considering the certainty of death and the uncertainty of the time thereof, do make and publish this as my last Will and Testament, in manner following, that is to say; ~
I order and direct all my just debts and funeral expenses to be fully satisfied and paid out of my Estate.
I give and bequeath to my beloved Wife, Maria M. Meredith, her executors, administrators and assigns, ninety nine Shares of Stock in the Commercial and Farmers Bank of Baltimore, (full paid) also two Shares of Stock in the Baltimore and Ohio rail road Company, also nine thousand dollars of the Government Loan of the United States of America, redeemable in Eighteen hundred and sixty eight, also five hundred dollars of the Loan of The Trustees of The Catholic Cathedral Church of Baltimore, also fifty Shares of Stock in the Merchants Bank of Baltimore, also one hundred Shares of Stock in The National Fire Insurance Company, upon which Seven dollars per Share has been paid; also Two thousand Dollars of The Baltimore and Ohio Rail road Company's free Bonds; also three hundred dollars of The Baltimore and Ohio Rail Road company's Bonds, subject to taxes, also, Six thousand one hundred and forty eight dollars and fifty cents of the six percent Stock or loan of the Corporation or City of Baltimore, also the sum of six thousand dollars, in Cash, also, my negro man Jim or Jim Sanders, as he calls himself, now hired to James Kelly, Esquire, of Kilmarnock, Virginia, also, all and entire of my furniture and plate and Library of Books of every description, also my wearing apparel, and I likewise give to my said beloved wife, Five hundred dollars for special pious purposes.
I give and bequeath to my sister Hannah Yerby, wife of Ellyson Yerby, now living in the City of Richmond, in the State of Virginia, her executors, administrators and assigns, six thousand dollars of the six percent Stock of the State of Virginia.
I give to my Niece Margaret M. Palmer of Northumberland County Virginia; two thousand dollars. I give to her daughter, Maria Palmer, two thousand dollars, and I give to John T. Palmer, (son of said Margaret M. Palmer.) the sum of two thousand dollars, which two last named amounts or sums may be used in whole or in part, to educate said children, or may be invested for them under the direction of their mother, as may be thought best, upon taking good advice of friends.
I give to my nephew William V. Meredith the sum of one thousand dollars. - I give to my nephew Joseph W. Shearman, the sum of one thousand, five hundred dollars.
I give to Maria Yerby and Virginia Yerby (daughters of my said Sister Hannah Yerby) the sum of one thousand dollars, apiece.
I give the sum of two thousand dollars to the children of Elizabeth Kirk, sister of my Nephew, William Pullen, to be equally divided between said children share and share alike.
I give to the most Reverend ArchBishop, Francis Patrick Kenrick, the sum of Five hundred dollars, I give to Richard McSherry, (young son of Doctor Richard McSherry Junior,) the sum of five hundred dollars, I give to Caroline M. Scammon, ~ (young daughter of Lieutenant E. T. I. Scammon, United States Engineers.) the sum of five hundred dollars, - I give to Lucy M. Jackson, (young daughter of Henry F. Jackson, proprietor of the Eutaw House) the sum of two hundred dollars, - I give to Henry Jackson, (son of the above named Henry F. Jackson) the sum of one hundred and fifty dollars. I give to Rosanna McCrorken, my Wife's maid, two hundred dollars. I give to Charles Ward, Colored Servant, who has waited on myself and Wife, faithfully for many years, the sum of one hundred Dollars.
I give to John Murray of Peter, the sum of one thousand five hundred ~ dollars, and also all claim I may have, to the live Stock and farming utensils and implements, on the Farm now occupied by him, belonging to me.
It is my will and desire the portion of my Estate above devised to my dear Wife, shall first be paid and secured to her, and that she be supplied with money out of my Estate by my Executors herinafter named, or the surviving or acting one of them, for her current expenses, at the rate of two thousand dollars per annum, from the time of my decease, until her share of my estate shall be secured to her; the legacies to my relations to be paid next, and then the other small legacies.
I give and bequeath to my Nephew, Thomas J. Meredith, his heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, all my interest at the time of my decease, in the business and property of the old firm or concern of Meredith and Company, my said Nephew Thomas J. Meredith, being the ~ partner in that firm, and I hereby authorize him, if necessary, to make use of the name of the said firm in collecting all debts and accounts due to the said firm, and I also give to my said nephew, Thomas J. Meredith, his heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, all my interest in the firms of Mummey and Meredith, Meredith and Spencer, and any other firm or firms, I have been a member of, except the present existing firm of Meredith Spencer & Company.
I have as my Capital in the business of Meredith, Spencer and Company, ~ Eight thousand Dollars, and being unable from feeble health to give personal attention to the business, and with the intention of keeping myself as disconnected as possible from it, so as to get out of business at any time I might see proper, It was agreed that the other partners in the said firm of Meredith Spencer & Company, should pay me interest on said Capital of Eight thousand dollars, and allow me a stipulated small sum for my share of the profits, the interest and profits aforesaid to be paid to me quarterly in Cash, on the first day of April, July, October and January, which agreement has been fully and duly complied with. - so that when I withdraw from the said firm of Meredith, Spencer and Company, or at my decease, I shall have no further claim upon the profits of said firm, but only the claim for my capital, and the Interest on it until paid, and in consideration of the small share of the profits which it was agreed I should receive, the other partners, namely, Thomas J. Meredith and Joseph H. Spencer, should take the business and pay all expenses, losses etc; releasing me, my heirs, executors and administrators, from all obligation to attend in any manner or way whatever to the settlement of the business of said firm, and from the expenses of the collecting and settling up said business, and from all losses by bad debts or otherwise, howsoever, and my Estate from all liability whatever, for or on account of the business of the said firm. Now I desire and therefore I request that my capital and interest on it shall be paid to my executors herinafter named or the surviver or acting one of them, as fast as possible after my decease, and that the whole shall be paid in two years or sooner if practicable, at the rate of not less than four thousand dollars per annum from the time of my death.
It is my desire, therefore I do order and direct, that Mr. John Murray of Peter, be continued on my Farm in Baltimore County, for two years from the time of my decease, upon the same terms he now has it, namely, one half of the clear profits of each year to be retained by him, as his compensation, and the other half paid to my Executors, or the surviver, or acting one of them, to be by them or the surviver, or acting one of them, paid over to my dear Wife, for her own use and benefit, or used by her in charities for the poor. The Statement of profits of said Farm to be made by said John Murray of Peter, which statements shall be conclusive without ~ further examination, and the settlements made accordingly. At the expiration of the said two years, it is my will and intention, and therefore I do order and direct, that my said farm in Baltimore County, and my warehouse and lot of ground and premises on the North side of Baltimore Street in the City of Baltimore, and the two small ~ dwellings in the rear, shall be sold together, at the sametime with my farm, and I do hereby fully authorize and empower my Executors hereinafter named, or the surviver or acting one of them, to sell the said farm, and the said Warehouse and lot of ground and premises on the North side of Baltimore Street in the City of Baltimore aforesaid, and the two small dwellings in the rear of said Warehouse, either at public or private Sale, and upon receipt of the purchase money to make, execute and deliver, in due form of law, to the purchasor or ~ purchasers thereof, his, her or their heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, one or more good and sufficient deed or deeds of Conveyance and assignment or assignments therefor.
All the rest, residue and remainder of my Estate, (after the payment of every specific legacy and bequest herinbefore made by this my Will, ) I dispose of in the manner following, that is to say,
I give the sum of six thousand dollars (part of said residue) to my said wife, Maria M. Meredith.
I give the sum of one thousand dollars, (part of said residue) to Margaret Louisa Menzies.
I give the sum of one thousand five hundred dollars (part of said residue) to my Niece, Ann B. Purcell, if she is living at my death, if she is not living, then I give the said one thousand five hundred dollars to her children, to be equally divided between them.
And the Balance or remainder of the said rest and residue of my Estate, - I dispose of as follows: that is to say, twenty five percent thereof, I give to the Trustees of Saint Charles College, twenty five per cent thereof, I give to the Protectors of Saint Mary's Orphaline Female School in the City of Baltimore, twenty per cent thereof I give to my said wife, Maria M. Meredith, Fifteen percent thereof, I give to the Saint Vincent of Paul's Benevolent Association and the remaining fifteen per cent thereof, I give to The Trustees of the Orphans' Home in Baltimore County
It is my wish to spare my dear Wife, all trouble and care about the settlement and distribution of my Estate, and I therefore hereby nominate, constitute and appoint my friends William Kennedy and Michael Courtney Jenkins, to be the Executors of this my last Will and Testament, hereby revoking all former Wills by me made and declaring this to be my only one.
In Testimony Whereof, I the said Thomas Meredith, have hereunto subscribed my name and affixed my Seal this Sixteenth day of August in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and fifty three.
Tho. Meredith (seal)
Signed, sealed, published and declared by Thomas Meredith, the Testator, to be his last Will and Testament, in the presence of us, who in his presence, at his request, and in the presence of each other, have hereunto subscribed our names, as Witnesses. ~
Wm. H. Bayzand, J. Robert Israel, W. Henry Israel
Baltimore City, Ss: on the 27th day of December 1853, came William H. Bayzand, John Robert Israel and William Henry Israel, the tree subscribing Witnesses to the aforegoing last Will and testament of Thomas Meredith late of said City deceased, and made Oath on the Holy Evangely of Almighty God that they did see the Testator sign and seal this will that they heard him publish pronounce and declare the same to be his last will and testament, that at the time of his doing he was to the best of their apprehensions of sound and disposing mind, memory and understanding, and that they subscribed their names as witnesses to this will in his presence at his request and in the presence of each other.
Sworn to in Open Court,
Test: N. Hickman Register of Wills for Baltimore City
"Maryland Probate Records", digital images, FamilySearch, (www.familysearch.org: accessed 9 May 2011), Thomas Meredith will dated 16 Aug 1853, Baltimore Will books, Nov 1853 to Nov 1883, Liber N.H. 26, pp 57-61.