Thursday, January 25, 2007

Any More Last Bequests?

Here are a few more selections from Virgil M. Harris's 1911 Ancient, Curious, and Famous Wills—a book I first ripped off in July.

A British sailor requested his executors to pay to his wife one shilling, wherewith to buy hazelnuts, as she had always preferred cracking nuts to mending his stockings. [p. 80]

John Parker, a bookseller living in Old Bond Street, served his wife in the following manner, leaving her no more than fifty pounds, and in the following words: "To one Elizabeth Parker, whom through fondness I made my wife, without regard to family, fame, or fortune, and who in return has not spared most unjustly to accuse me of every crime regarding human nature, except highway robbery, I bequeath the sum of fifty pounds." [p. 86]

A certain wealthy man left this provision in his will: "Should my daughter marry and be afflicted with children, the trustees are to pay out of said legacy, Ten Thousand Dollars on the birth of the first child, to the ______ Hospital; Twenty Thousand Dollars, on the second; Thirty Thousand Dollars, on the third; and an additional Ten Thousand Dollars on the birth of every fresh child, till the One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars is exhausted. Should any portion of this sum be left at the end of twenty years, the balance is to be paid to her to use as she thinks fit." [p. 88]

A certain Glasgow doctor died some ten years ago, and left his whole estate to his sisters. In his will appeared this unusual clause: "To my wife, as recompense for deserting me and leaving me in peace, I expect the said sister, Elizabeth, to make her a gift of ten shillings sterling, to buy her a pocket handkerchief to weep after my decease." [p. 88]

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