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Flummoxed by a will - help please

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Re: Flummoxed by a will - help please

Postby AdrianB38 » Sat Aug 19, 2017 9:25 pm

Thanks for clearing up where the Irwin and Simmonds references come from. And where Eliza's death is recorded.

To be quite honest, you have every right to be flummoxed - I am as well, because we are clearly missing bits to this story. There is no proof that Irwin and Simmonds are the executors of Eliza's will. It is, however, quite sensible to ask - so who are they then?

If (and it's a big if), what we see on Ancestry is Eliza's full will, then there are no executors to her will. In that case, Irwin and Simmonds could have been appointed administrators (effectively, executors) of Eliza's estate by whichever court granted probate on it. If this is the case, then I suspect that court was not the PCC, because surely the PCC documentation would have recorded this appointment. In which case, the court in question was probably in Ireland, in which case all bets are off as the Irish wills were "all" burnt in 1922. I can see no reference in FindMyPast to her will in any of the surviving lists, but I have no certainty over how complete those lists are.

If what we see on Ancestry is just an extract from Eliza's full will, then the original may very well have appointed Irwin and Simmonds as her executors. The likelihood is that in this case, Eliza's will was proven in Ireland. See above for survival.

Either way round, Irwin and Simmonds appear to be her executors / administrators of her estate and were probably appointed thus by Eliza or the family. Why Birmingham? Because that's where Irwin & Simmonds were, though whether they'd always been there, we can't tell. The will certainly wasn't proven in Birmingham, it was proven (for effect in the English legal system) by the PCC at Lambeth.

I guess that there is another possibility for Irwin and Simmonds - that they had been appointed by Abbe Canvan as trustees of his estate. But again, we are stuck without visibility of that will - it would be worth looking in the Dominica wills on the microfilms at the Society of Genealogists when they open up the new films there. If the Canvan will was proven in Ireland then... :( 1922 again....

But I have to say that Irwin and Simmonds being trustees for Abbe Canvan's estate doesn't make immediate sense either... Normally, the sort of usage for trustees is that they effectively own the estate on behalf of the Canvan estate and would have ensured Eliza got the income from it. But, this sort of set-up (referred to as Eliza having a life-interest in the estate) would have meant that Eliza herself did not own the inheritance - Irwin and Simmonds sort-of owned it. Therefore Eliza could not have bequeathed it in her will - what happened to it would have been defined by the Canvan will, which would, in this case, have said something along the lines of Eliza having a life interest by getting the income and then, after her death, the estate to be split between her children in a manner defined in that (Canvan) will.

The fact that the Canvan inheritance is bequeathed in her will seems to indicate that Eliza owned that inheritance outright, which means Irwin and Simmonds were not acting as trustees for the Canvan stuff.

And if any of this makes sense, well, I'm slightly surprised. Essentially without the Canvan will and / or the full text of Eliza's will (if indeed we only see an extract), we can't really make any further progress. All we can say is that it looks like Irwin and Simmonds lived in Birmingham at that time, and that's the only reason Birmingham is involved.
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Re: Flummoxed by a will - help please

Postby ianbee » Sat Aug 19, 2017 10:19 pm

M Fletcher wrote:She appears as Healy in the census but I suppose that she kept this name as it matched the will- but she was already widowed when Eliza wrote the will and her new name was Fahy- as given in the death duty entry.

Catherine was widowed at 17? When did she marry Fahy?

AdrianB38 wrote:If what we see on Ancestry is just an extract from Eliza's full will

If M Fletcher has been to Kew, then presumably he would have attempted to order up the original will. What exactly did he get?
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Re: Flummoxed by a will - help please

Postby AdrianB38 » Sat Aug 19, 2017 11:47 pm

Should have read my own comments earlier. Eliza's will was proven as an Admon with will attached. And Catherine was the appointed executor. So Irwin and Simmonds are not Eliza's executors. So why are they on the Death Duty Register entry? DDR entries are for a specific purpose - to be mentioned, they must be something to do with the bequests. But I seriously cannot see a plausible configuration of who's doing what.

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Re: Flummoxed by a will - help please

Postby M Fletcher » Wed Aug 23, 2017 7:05 am

There is a scribble next to Catherine's name on the probate record saying 'gone away' - so not her usual adddress. John Irwin is also marked 'gone away'. Presumably some contact was tried after the normal business was concluded and they were o longer at their addresses. Certainly Nicholas did not stay long.
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Re: Flummoxed by a will - help please

Postby M Fletcher » Wed Aug 23, 2017 7:24 am

Adrian - your comments have been most helpful and I am actively seeking Abbe Canvan's will. I understand from a lecture at the SOG on Irish FH that it was not the norm for women to make a will unless they were unmarried. Married women received a proportion of their husband's estate to live on during their life time and this passed immediately to their children on the mother's death. So Eliza only possessed,in her own right, the legacy from her uncle Andrew Canvan. All Eliza's children were under 25 when she died. Catherine was a young widow, Austin joined the army within a year, James may have also joined up- not sure about this one- and William was about 9 or 10 and, from his progression in life, seems to have been rather feckless. Since Nicholas( 5 at the time of his mother's death) became a carpenter he may have been apprenticed and not free to travel until he finished. I suggest that Catherine took the opportunity of Nicholas wanting to leave Ireland when he was 21 to go with him to collect her dues. He was the only one available with enough brains to help her. Simmonds was a clerk of the court and John Irwin may well have been a cousin (he is also marked 'gone away' on the probate record but is on the census as an Irish dealer). Nicholas' grandmother was Bridget Irwin- it might be a coincidence. I will post some images of the probate record- terribly difficult to read and in sections- later today.

Thanks
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Re: Flummoxed by a will - help please

Postby ianbee » Wed Aug 23, 2017 8:19 am

M Fletcher wrote:I am actively seeking Abbe Canvan's will

As I told you in my second reply, if it was proved in Dominica, the wills have been digitized by the LDS, and can be viewed at any family history centre.
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Re: Flummoxed by a will - help please

Postby AdrianB38 » Wed Aug 23, 2017 8:58 am

M Fletcher wrote:... I understand from a lecture at the SOG on Irish FH that it was not the norm for women to make a will unless they were unmarried. ...

That's very much the norm in England as well. Only widows and single women held property in their own right - married women held no property in their own right as it all belonged to their husband, and so they generally had nothing to leave. Having said that, there were all sorts of ways and means. The usual thing was for a father to leave his daughters their inheritance in a trust - they got the income but the trustees owned the capital in the trust, so it did not become the property of the husband. This is what's referred to as the daughter (or possibly niece in this case!) having a life-interest in the estate.

Oddly the only will that I have from a woman in Ireland, made in 1827, was for a married woman in such a case. She had a life interest in a part of her father's estate and normally her children would inherit the absolute / outright ownership after her death, according to the terms of her father's will. In this case, the wife was concerned that her children might die before they could inherit, so she made a will saying that, in that case, her husband should inherit. But what's also going on that you don't see in the will, is a Chancery Court case in relation to her father's estate where wife and husband want the estate to be divided differently.

And what I had forgotten until just now, is the mechanics of her will:
- she lives in Ireland;
- the estate is cash held in England;
- the will is signed and witnessed in Ireland;
- the will is now in the PCC wills (i.e. PC of Canterbury);
- there are no executors named in her will;
- as a result of the above, it's proven by an Admon with will attached.

The last two bullets are curiously similar to Eliza's will. In fact, the whole set-up is vaguely reminiscent of Eliza's will, which is why I've explained it, just in case it might help understanding.

Oh - one request - please don't refer to the Death Duty stuff as being probate documents. Probate documents are those relating to the will and proving it. Death Duty documents are after the probate process, so it can lead to misunderstanding if you call them probate documents - we might end up looking in totally the wrong place for the relevant text.
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Re: Flummoxed by a will - help please

Postby ianbee » Wed Aug 23, 2017 4:00 pm

M Fletcher wrote:Josiah Henry Simmonds.....was a clerk of the court and an auctioneer who went bankrupt that year.

A quick look at this man, who is usually recorded as Simmons.
1841 census, in Handsworth
ref: piece 980 book 2 folio 18(?) page 29
Josiah Simmons Auctioneer 30
Sophia Simmons 30
John Simmons 9
Sophia Simmons 7
Alfred Simmons 4
All of them Not Born County.

The marriage was at St Martin, Birmingham, 26 January 1831
Josiah Henry Simmons + Sophia Wilkes
Bachelor and Spinster, both signed. Marriage was by banns.

Baptisms following at St Philip of John Wilkes Simmons, Sophia Wilkes Simmons, Alfred Henry Simmons
Josiah's occupation on all of them was Auctioneer
Abode Whitall Street in 1832, then Aston Road.

They had a couple more children after the 1841 census

A mention in Aris's Birmingham Gazette, 7 October 1839
Josiah Henry Simmons is described as Bailiff of the Court Baron, and was one of several candidates proposed to be a Sergeant of the Borough Court. He was not elected.

In December 1840 the Birmingham newpapers reported
Hundred Court of Hemlingford, County of Warwick
At a Court Baron of the Rt Hon Sir Robert Peel, Baronet, Lord of the said Hundred, holden at the Public Office, Birmingham, 25 Nov 1840
Samuel Wilkes, Birmingham, Clock Dial Maker, was duly appointed Bailiff of the said Court, in the place of Mr. Josiah Henry Simmons.

December 1841
Insolvent Debtors
To be heard at the Court House, Birmingham
Josiah Henry Simmons, formerly of Birmingham, and late of Handsworth, near Birmingham, auctioneer, appraiser, and collector of debts.

Moving on to the 1851 census, in Camberwell, Surrey, we can find Sophia Simmons, 44, Married, and children John W Simmons, 19, Sophia W Simmons, 17, Lavinia R Simmons, 9, Thomas W Simmons, 7. All born Warwickshire Birmingham.
Where was Josiah?
The son John Wilkes Simmons seems to have died in Tasmania, and was buried Hobart Cemetery, 8 January 1900. Age 68, born England, Clergyman (Retired).
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Re: Flummoxed by a will - help please

Postby AdrianB38 » Thu Aug 24, 2017 12:36 pm

ianbee wrote:... if it was proved in Dominica, the wills have been digitized by the LDS, and can be viewed at any family history centre.

Just to reinforce what Ian says, I double checked this while on a different "mission" and the 3 films can be found via the FamilySearch catalogue on https://www.familysearch.org/catalog/search - just go in on a place-name of "Dominica" and look down the short list.

There were 3 films made of which presumably this is appropriate:
Wills, Books 4, 6-13 1790-1794, 1798-1830
International Film
1699767


Note also the 3rd film has this in:
Index of Wills, Books 1-20 [17--?]-1892 (this index also appears at the beginning of the roll of film)
International Film
1699834 Item 3


Copies of the 3 films are at the Society of Genealogists Library, having been shipped there from the LDS facility at Kew. Not sure when the SoG opens access to the new films - there's been major work there to hold all the ex-LDS films.

In addition, the three films, as Ian says, have all been digitised and can also be viewed on a PC at any LDS Family History Centre.
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