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Old 15-05-24, 18:46
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Default Get the women's wills

Because they are now so cheap, I've been ordering wills I wouldn't have dreamed of looking at before, concentrating on spinsters and childless widows. It has proved a treasure trove, as the beneficiaries are nieces and nephews, and where the nieces have married, it has proved relationships. Is anyone else disappearing down this particular rabbit hole?
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Old 15-05-24, 18:56
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Yes, the wills of spinsters and widows have been very useful for me. My dear old auntie Em never married, quite comfortably off, left sums of money to over 30 nieces and nephews ( some of whom were great nieces and neohews, but apparently the law does not differentiate). As they all had surnames like Wood and Hill and Slater etc, it had proved impossible to sort them out before I sent for this will, years ago but the principle's the same! It was money very well spent.

The most disappointingly useless will I've ever bought was for one of my 3x ggf. He was a yeoman farmer, a big fish in a little pond and I was expecting great things. I couldn't believe my eyes when it came - a nuncupative will of three lines - I leave everything to my neighbour and friend Mary Briggs.

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Old 15-05-24, 20:14
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The disappointing I found was a man in the Tudor period who left everything to "my five daughters". You could feel his rage and disappointment that his wife hadn't left him a son. The daughters were so unimportant that he never bothered to name them.
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Old 16-05-24, 07:23
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Yes, the Wills of the women, widows and spinsters have been very enlightening.

I found the Will of Elizabeth Trumplett, spinster - she left her estate to her sister Mary's family - my 3xgreat grandparents and their children. Without it, I would never have known the connections between my family and Thomas Brent, who rented the property that Elizabeth owned.

During our COVID lockdown, I went through as many wills as possible for Tyrrell/Terrell families because they were so confusing with Thomas, Francis, Timothy and William in every family in every generation. But a spreadsheet setting out which will mentions which people helped work out who belonged to whom, and some of the most helpful were the widows and spinsters (and also the bachelors).

Most unhelpful were the men who left their estate to 'my wife' or "my sons and daughters".
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Old 16-05-24, 07:48
Olde Crone Olde Crone is offline
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Sliding off topic onto the utter unimportance of daughters in some families, I have a very old marriage agreement for an Elizabeth Holden, pages of it. She died before the wedding took place, the grieving fiance took on her sister Mary instead and the scribe went through crossing out Elizabeth and substituting Mary. She didn't even get her own marriage agreement!

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Old 16-05-24, 17:35
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I have the will of a boarding school matron who married the headmaster when they were both in late middle age, he died first leaving her very well off, she gave about 45 legacies with several codicils as she kept changing her mind. Only one person was from her (and my) family.

Granny's childless aunt also left bits and pieces to numerous nieces and nephews. My uncle had insisted she had left tablespoons to one of his sisters to the chagrin of another aunt though this was not the case.
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