I have a feeling that Wills are really useful. A couple of years ago I spent some time at The London Probate Registry looking up a list of relatives to see if they had left a Will. It was a really interesting experience but I had a really small success rate. I’ve also spent some time using TNA’s online pre-1858 records catalogue, where I’ve had the same success rate. I’m not sure if I’ve been searching correctly or more likely, my relatives didn’t have money or property to leave. Either way I thought I would transcribe a few of the Wills I have as they are pretty useless in their original state. It’s taken a while as the handwriting is terrible!
In the Name of God, Amen.
I, George Caswell, Commander in the Royal Navy, being in bodily health and of sound and disposing mind and in xxx and xxx the perils and dangers of the seas and other uncertainties of this transitory life do, for xxx xxx after my xxx xxx publish and xxx, this my last will and testament in manner following, that is to say, First I recommend my Soul to God that gave it and my body I commit to the Earth or Sea as it shall please God to xxx and as for any xxx all my worldly estate I give bequeath and dispose thereof as followeth that is to say after payment of my just debts funeral x x x testamentary expenses all such wages sum and sums of money, lands, tenements, goods, chattels and estate whatsoever as shall be xxx but owing or belonging unto me at the time of my decease & to give xxx and bequeath the same unto my dear daughter Selina Cleopatra Anne Caswell and I do hereby nominate and appoint Mr xxx Pringle Burnett of Surrey Street, Strand, London, Navy Agent, Executor of this my last will and testament hereby revoking all former and other wills testaments and deeds of gifts by me at any time herefore made and I do ordain and ratify those present to stand and be for and as my only last will and testament xxx witness whatof to this my said will – I have set my hand and seal, the eighteenth day of July in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty and in the xxx twenty fourth year of the reign of Our Sovereign Lady Victoria by the Glory of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Queen Defender of the Faith and so forth – George Caswell x Signed sealed published and declared by the testator the said George Caswell in the presence of us present at the same time who in his presence and in the presence of each other have submitted our names as witnesses – W. B. Pike Geo. Nye
On the 6th December 1875 xxx with the Will annexed of the personal estate of George Caswell late of Upton South Stoneham in the County of Southampton, retired Captain in Her Majesty’s Royal Navy deceased who died 7th October 1874 at xxx aforesaid was granted to Selina Cleopatra Anne Caswell, Spinster, the daughter the xxx legatee xxx having been first sworn xxx Pringle Burnett the sole Executor named the said Will having died in the lifetime of the testator.