Thanks to Tim Laker, a George Wills descendant, for discovering George’s Last Will and Testament on file at the UK National Archives. It dates back to July 1857 and was proved in London on November 14, 1857. Among other things, this document reveals what happened to George’s business when he passed away. My past posts on the matter had been inconclusive, but here we find out for certain that George did indeed split his business between his son Jabez and his son-in-law William Slaymaker. (William Slaymaker was married to George’s daughter Mary. William and Mary Slaymaker changed their surname to Sargent before immigrating to the US in 1870.)
Jabez inherited George’s business in Wolverton, while William inherited George’s business in Northampton. The will is very difficult to read, but here is what I have gleaned so far. Dots indicate text I was unable to decipher and in many cases I have made a “best guess”:
This the Last Will and Testament of one George Wills of Northampton in the County of Northampton Mason made this second day of July in the year one thousand eight hundred and fifty seven in the following … viz … I will that all my just debts be payed and my burial expenses be paid … I give and … to my son Jabez Wills my house and premises at Wolverton in the County of Buckingham. I give and bequeath my business at Northampton house yard and premises to to my son-in-law William Slaymaker. I give and bequeath to my daughter Mrs. Phoebe Simpson of Roade in the said County one Cottage. I give and it bequeath to my Daughter Martha Capon Gasgoyne of …. in the County of Warwick one Cottage, also I give and bequeath her my portrait (viz/ the said Martha Capon Gasgoyne). I give and bequeath to my late Daughter Ann ??’s [Spelling of married name hard to decipher; I’d always thought it was “Grear,” but this looks different] four children one Cottage. I give and bequeath to my Granddaughter Zillah Simpson one Cottage. The Cottages are situated in what is … St. Siz [?] Street Northampton. I will that the whole of my … debts and …. be sold and the money be applied for payments of my … at my … I will that the Bibel presented to me by the ……….. of Ashton in the said County be given to William Slaymaker. Lastly I make and constitute and appoint my …. Mr. George Wills of Broad Lane Northampton Builder and my daughter Phoebe Simpson of Roade in the County as … my Executor and Executrix of this my last Will and Testament and I hereby empower them to collect all monies due to me in … bills or otherwise at my … and to retain and pay themselves all that is due to them and all expenses related to their said Trust in which hereof I have hereunto set my hand this day and year first as above written ——–GEORGE WILLS —-Signed sealed published and delivered by the herewith Testator as and for this his Will and Testament in the presents of us who at his request and in his presents and in the presents of oath and oath other have have subscribed our names as witnesses hereto————Witness Samuel Pasenall —— John Parbery
PROVED at London 14th Nov. 1857 before the Judge by the Oath of George Wills and Phoebe (in the appointment written Phoeby Simpson, Widow, the Daughter, the Executors to whom …. was granted to having been first sworn by common duty to administer
The will leaves me with some questions and general thoughts:
- I’d always had George’s year of death listed as 1856, but obviously it was 1857.
- My date of death of daughter Ann Gadsden Wills Grear [last name correct?] must also be wrong (d. 1 Nov 1858); she obviously predeceased her father George.
- Daughter Martha Capon inherited George’s portrait. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see a photo of the full-color original? Of course, it’s fantastic to at least have the version in tones of gray; I don’t have any information on Martha’s descendants, and perhaps one of them still has this portrait. Maybe they will find us through this blog someday.
- William Slaymaker is mentioned as inheriting a Bible. I have no idea what happened to that Bible. If it was taken to America when the family relocated, it must have ended up with someone other than daughter Elizabeth, my great grandmother; we’ve never seen it or heard of it prior to this.
- Lastly and most interestingly, who is this George Wills the executor? I can’t make out the word before his name. George had a son on 10 Mar 1827 who was named George Sampson Wills. Our records always showed that this son died the following year, but perhaps not. Any thoughts on whether this was indeed George’s son, George?
I’ll close for now, but please feel free to share your ideas and knowledge on any of the above! Many heads are definitely better than one!