Monday, 26 March 2012

Amanuensis Monday - Will of Matthew Elders (1849-1921)

I transcribed this will some time ago, but it is always good to revisit documents. My comments will follow each paragraph in italics. Let me know if you think there's something I've missed!


THIS IS THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT of me MATTHEW ELDERS of Bridlington in the County of York, Retired Engine Driver. I appoint my dear wife Jane Ann Elders and my Son-in-Law Arthur James Sigsworth of Bridlington aforesaid Decorator (hereinafter called my Trustees) to be the EXECUTORS and TRUSTEES of this my will. 
This gave me the name of Arthur James Sigsworth.

I give to my said wife absolutely all monies standing to the credit of my account, whether solely or jointly at any Bank, and all sums and bonuses payable on my death by virtue of any Policies of Assurance effected on my life. 
Jane Ann gets the money :)

I give my piano to my grandchild Alice Carr. 
A new name. Matthew had three daughters; Hannah Jane., Anne and Alice. So one married Arthur Sigsworth, and another married a man with the surname Carr. Turns out Alice is the daughter of Hannah Jane.

I give all my household furniture, linen, plate and plated goods, china, pictures, books, and all other articles of domestic use or ornament to my trustees, in trust to permit my wife to have the sole use and enjoyment thereof during her life and from and after her death. 
Jane Ann is well looked after

In trust in equal shares for my daughters Anna Jane Whiting and Alice Sigsworth upon the like trusts as are hereinafter declared concerning their shares of my residuary estate. And I declare that my trustees shall be under no obligation to make an inventory of, or to see to the preservation or insurance of the said furniture and effects, and shall not be answerable for any loss or damage occasioned thereto in the lifetime of my said wife. 
Hannah Jane appears to be mis-spelt here (perhaps she shortened her name as she got older, but it does seem odd to not have her legal name in a legal document). It also suggests that after marrying a Carr she married a Whiting. Alice is the wife of Arthur.  

I give, devise and bequeath all the residue of my estate, real and personal whatsoever and wheresoever to my trustees, in trust to sell, call in and convert the same into money, with power to postpone such conversion indefinitely, without being responsible for loss, and out of the moneys produced by such sale and conversion to pay my just debts, funeral and testamentary expenses, and to stand possessed of the residue in trust to invest the same in any investments allowed by law. 
Money stuff. Matthew was a shareholder in Elders Walker Ltd. - a paint and glass manufacturer based in Gateshead. My ancestor, John, was the clerk before his death. The company did very nicely, which explains why he was so wealthy.

In the case of trust funds with power to vary the same at discretion and to stand possessed of such investments, including any part of my residuary estate for the time being unconverted (hereinafter called my Trust Estate), in trust to pay the income there from both before and after such sale and investment as aforesaid to my said wife Jane Ann Elders.
Again, Jane is looked after.

During her life and from and after her decease I direct my Trustees shall hold the capital and income of my trust estate in trust in equal shares for all or any my children, or child living at my death and for all or any the issue living at my death who attain the age of Twenty one years, or being female marry under that age. 
Suggests a daughter that married under 21 would receive her share before her 21st birthday. 

Of any child of mine who may have died in my lifetime leaving issue to take through all degrees according to their stocks in equal shares the share or shares their parent would have taken if living at my death and so that no issue shall take whose parent is living at my death and so capable of taking, provided always that in the event of my daughter Alice Sigsworth dying in my lifetime without leaving any such issue, then my trustees shall hold the share that she would have taken under any of the trusts hereinbefore declared had she survived me, in trust for her husband, the said Arthur James Sigsworth absolutely. 
My great great grandfather John Elders had died in 1904, so his share would be split between his three children. This paragraph suggests Matthew was close to Arthur James Sigsworth as it ensures he would receive Alice's share had Alice died before her father.

IN WITNESS whereof I have hereunto set my hand this 24th day of November One thousand nine hundred and nineteen – M. ELDERS – SIGNED and declared by the said Matthew Elders as and for his last Will and Testament in the presence of us both present at the same time who at his request in his presence and in the presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses – ALFRED W. WEST Solicitor Bridlington – J. F. Yates Clerk to Messrs West & Son Solicitors Bridlington.
ON the 6th day of May 1921 Probate of this Will was granted to Jane Ann Elders and Arthur James Sigsworth the executors.


The net value of Matthew's estate was just over £2172. Using an online inflation conversion tool, that equates to £78,000 in 2010. Split between the 5 children, that's £15,600, then split again between John's three children, that is £5,200 in today's money (£144 then) that my great granddad John Redvers should have received - a pretty decent amount of money!


  1. This is a great will here, Katelyn. I only uncovered 2 wills in my research, I may post them when another Amanuensis Monday comes around. Sadly I don't think most of my ancestors were well off enough to make a will!

    1. Compared to BMD certificates, Wills are great value for money. I believe they are £6 compared to £10 for a certificate. And you know you probably have the right person due to the probate records on Ancestry that list who the money went to (in this case it stated Jane Ann Elders as the widow, so I new I had the correct Matthew) which means it's not wasted money. As you can see in this one, the list of family is also really helpful, especially for post 1911 deaths as you can find people that aren't on the census.

      So far I only have two longer wills, one on my mothers side so it might be a while before I post it. However I also have a couple of single page Letters of Administration. I'll try and transcribe one next week, but they can also be interesting as they have people written at the side as guarantors. In one case it lists the father and brother of my great great grandmother, and gave me information about them that I didn't already know (turns out her brother was a hotelier in Bradford!).

    2. I got my two wills on the National Archives website. They were only £3.50 or so each to download a digital copy. I have found a few relatives in the National Probate collection on Ancestry, but haven't ordered a copy of any wills from these. Where do you order them from?

    3. I need to check out the National Archives. How searchable are the wills? The link to order wills the way I did is just over half way down the page here ( Tick the boxes to say you want a copy of anything they find :)

    4. Their DocumentsOnline service is pretty good. They have a fair few other records on there. I am not sure why some wills are available, but I took a chance once and searched for my ancestor's name and there it was. I found his father's will too.

  2. I was just rereading this, and thought it's very interesting that leaves his furniture etc in trust to two of his three daughters. Anne doesn't get a mention. I wonder why this is?

    1. So the 1911 census states that two of the five children have died before 1911. I hadn't done much research in to who that was, but based on the information in this tree I would guess that Anne was the child that died (my great great Grandfather was the other).

      I have found a death record for Anne Elders in 1885 registered in Sculcoates, East Yorkshire, which is the right location based on the 1881 and 1891 census'.

      I need to do a bit more research to verify it was her, but it would therefore suggest all Matthew's belongings were split four ways, not five.