Author Topic: Unusual bequest in a will  (Read 2039 times)

Offline carol_cholsey

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Unusual bequest in a will
« on: Monday 20 April 15 21:37 BST (UK) »
I have recently bought the will of Robert Smith Sayers who died in Sussex in 1881. I'm puzzled by the contents and wondered if someone could suggest a reason for his actions.

Robert had three sons with his first wife Selina, and after her death he married Mary Lane who was a widow and already had five children, they had no children together.

In the will Robert stipulates that his wife Mary should inherit his wearing apparel, and that his executors should convert all his remaining 'property and effects' into cash. He then goes on to say that if his wife Mary is still alive, then the money should be divided equally between his three sons. If however his wife Mary had already died, then the proceeds of his estate should be divided equally between Mary's five children who are all named in the will.

Mary did not die until 1898, so Robert's sons would have inherited from their father, but I can't understand the reasoning behind leaving his estate to Mary's children if she had already died, thus denying his own three sons of any inheritance.

As Mary was not provided for in the will, I'm assuming that she had private means, she was by profession a dressmaker, so could have supported herself that way. She died in 1898, but I'm unable to locate a will for her to confirm that she had any estate to leave.

I'd be interested to know if anyone has come across anything like this before, or has any ideas as to the reasoning behind it.
WINTON in Sussex & Kent; ALGER, ANTHONEY & MERCER in Rotherhithe, Surrey & Deptford, Kent; WHITBREAD in Shefford, Beds; KEELING in Yorks, Lincs & Leics; BLONK & SEASTRON in Sheffield, Yorks; BENNETT, MILLER, SUMMERS, BOSSLEY, WOULDHAM & SHOVLAR in Gravesend, Kent

Census information is Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

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Offline Viktoria

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Re: Unusual bequest in a will
« Reply #1 on: Monday 20 April 15 23:42 BST (UK) »
 This sort of thing can often reflect the character(s) of those who will inherit.Or not, in the case of the second wife!
Way way back in our family one man directed that his daughter should have her share but "not until she be a widow"--- her husband was a ne`er do well going by the name of Handsome Ned.
 He spent a lot of time in the pub!
 The will stipulates that if the man`s daughter died first her children should inherit but not until they were 21, when being considered adults, they would not be  bullied into handing anything over. They were adults in their own right. . .                                                                                                                         Married women had no rights to property( even from their fathers or husbands) , however aristocratic they were. Jane Austen wrote about it in the book where a widow and her daughters  lose everything to a  male relative of her late husband, whose wife gradually wears him down about how much he should allow  the widow and her daughters until they are  are in very straightened circumstances . It was daylight robbery by today`s`standards.                         "Sense &Sensibility " I think .
Yours has very odd wording though . I can only think that had hs stepchildren`s mother been alive she would have taken anything her own children inherited, but why did he  cut out his own children if his second wife died before him?  That is the big mystery. Hope you get it sorted. ViktorIa



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Offline aghadowey

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Re: Unusual bequest in a will
« Reply #2 on: Monday 20 April 15 23:59 BST (UK) »
How old were Mary's children when their stepfather wrote his Will? Perhaps Mary had some sort of annuity that was to stop with her death and he wanted to make some sort of provision for her children if she died first and they had no other income.
Have you looked to see if Mary's first husband left a Will?
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Offline carol_cholsey

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Re: Unusual bequest in a will
« Reply #3 on: Tuesday 21 April 15 11:18 BST (UK) »
Many thanks for your responses.

Viktoria, I love the story about Handsome Ned, and it's certainly possible that Robert may not have held his second wife in high regard. I've just read up on the Married Women's Property Act passed in 1870, which confirms that the act wasn't retroactive, so any property (including money) that Mary had when she married Robert in 1852 was still his to dispose of as he so wished in 1877 when he wrote his will.

Robert's first wife was Selina Brown, her father William was a shoemaker who died in 1841, (before Selina had had any children), and I doubt very much that there was any money to inherit from that side of the family.

Thank you aghadowey for your suggestions. Mary's children were born between 1828 and 1837, so the youngest would have been 40 when Robert made his will in 1877. I'm struggling to find out what happened to them all, but I do know that one of them emigrated to Canada in 1856. Mary's first husband was Thomas Morley (aka Virgo), who died in Brighton in 1837. He was the eldest son of Thomas Morley and Lydia (nee Virgo), and as they were still both alive when their son died, it is quite possible that they contributed to the upkeep of his widow and the five children. I haven't as yet found a will for either Thomas or his father (also Thomas), but I shall certainly explore that possibility.

Mary's father was Thomas Tugnett, shown as a labourer on the 1841 census living in Wiston Sussex, and died in 1845, and I doubt very much that Mary inherited any money from that branch.
WINTON in Sussex & Kent; ALGER, ANTHONEY & MERCER in Rotherhithe, Surrey & Deptford, Kent; WHITBREAD in Shefford, Beds; KEELING in Yorks, Lincs & Leics; BLONK & SEASTRON in Sheffield, Yorks; BENNETT, MILLER, SUMMERS, BOSSLEY, WOULDHAM & SHOVLAR in Gravesend, Kent

Census information is Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk