One of the records that we genealogists seek with passion and excitement are the wills of our ancestors. Wills can be a treasure trove of information – when someone died, where they died, what they owned, and who survived them. However, the details included in wills can vary considerably. We would all like to locate wills that contain lots of details about the deceased’s heirs, but details are often lacking. For example, my James Piles’ will merely states, “I give and devise to my beloved wife in lieu of kindness”[i] and doesn’t even mention his wife’s name. Such vagueness can really add to the frustration of our genealogical research.
Given the variability of the details contained in wills, I just had to share the following will of Richard English, which lists all eleven of his children. What a surprise and pleasure to find! Enjoy…
“In the name of the Benevolent Father of all America: I Richard English of the County of Belmont and State of Ohio, being of sound mind and memory and of full age, do make publish and declare this my last will and testament in name and form following this is to say,
First, It is my will and desire that my funeral expenses and all my just debts shall be fully paid,
Secondly, I give and bequeath unto my daughter Elizabeth Johnston wife of David Johnston, deceased, Two hundred dollars to be paid two years after my decease $200.
3rd I give to the lawful heirs of son William English, deceased, the sum Five dollars each and accounts due from him to me;
4th I give and bequeath to Daughter Margaret Piles wife of James deceased, two hundred dollars 200.
5th I give and bequeath to my daughter Jane Moldon wife of Hezekial Moldon two hundred dollars and no interest on accounts due from him to me 200.
6th I give and bequeath to my Daughter Elinor Forbes wife of Nathaniel Forbes deceased, two hundred dollars 200.
7th I give and bequeath to my Daughter Mary Ann Anderson two hundred dollars wife of William Anderson 200.
8th I give and bequeath to my son Samuel English the sum of Forty dollars and all accounts due from him to me. 40.
9th I give and bequeath to my son Robert English the sum of three hundred and fifty dollars and no interest due from him to me.
10th I give and bequeath unto the lawful heirs of my son Richard English twenty dollars each.
I give and bequeath unto my son Thomas English the Land that I live on being the North West quarter of section thirty six likewise a lot of land in same section joining land of Isaac Frye in Belmont County, commencing on the line that divides the section North and south, at the North East corner of Frye’s land by a small Beach and stone planted running thirty nine rods south, thence thirty nine East, North thirty nine rods thence to the place of beginning. I likewise give to my son Thomas English, Daughter Elinor Forbes all the beds and bedding and all the household and kitchen furniture, and the remainder of my property real and personal be equally divided between my two sons Thomas English and Isaac English.
I do hereby appoint my two sons Thomas English and Isaac English my Executors of my last will and testament with full power to sell and convey all Lands and tenements by me held if necessary, revoking all former by me made.
In testimony whereof I have set my hand and seal this Twenty-fourth day of January 1857.
Richard English (seal)”[ii]
[i] Guernsey County, Ohio, Will Book I: 134, James Piles; Probate Court, Cambridge.
[ii] Belmont County, Ohio, Will Record I:263, Richard English; Probate Court, St. Clairsville