The will of Rev. Seaborn Cotton of Hampton, 1684
In the Name of God Amen, & of His Son Christ Jesus, Who is Lord both of Quicke, & Dead, Who hath taught us by Precept, & Example, not to doe our owne Will, bu the Will of our Heavenly Father: yet in his Word hath ratifyed the Will of a Testator, when He is dead. I Seaborne Cotton of Hampton, in His Majestyes Province of New Hampshire, in New England, doe Make, & declare this my Last Will & Testament, & (I trust) according to the Will of God, in the manner following. First, My Soule, which Hee hath chosen, & Redeemed, & (I hope) called out of the Power of darkenesse, I doe (according to His Appointment) resign It, into his Hand, at His Call, as Into the Hand of a gracious, & Faithfull Creator, Redeemer, & Comforter: My Body after my decease, I leave to bee decently Com'itted to the Earth, til ye day of ye Resurrection of ye Just. And as to the Outward estate, which God hath given mee; As It is ye will of God, So my Will is, That out of It, My Debts bee first payed, & then my Wife, & children Live of ye Rest, as is after mentioned: My Debts are only at Portsmouth, & Boston, my Debts at Portsmouth are few, & small, & will easily bee paid by debts due to mee in Hampton, which debts from Hampton, I Appoint my dear Wife Prudence, with my after named Exequetors, to se Improved for that end; & the remaining part of those debts from Hampton, If they bee found, I bestow upon my sd Wife Towards the maintenance of Her Selfe, & my Son Rowland. My Debt at Boston is only to my Honored, & good Freind Captaine Sewall Administrator to my Honored, & good Benefactor Captaine Hull deceased, who hath promised mee to bee satisfyed with part of the Rent of my Farme at Muddy River yearely, untill the Principall bee paid; for which end, I Appoint a convenient part yearely to bee paid, as may best Content, except only some part of the Rent hereafter Excepted, unlesse my selfe before my decease shall pay Him, or my Exequetors shall find an easier, & nearer way not contradicting any other part of my will. Furthermore, in Consideration of the Christian Com'union of my selfe, & present deare Wife, about the space of Eleven yeares, as also having received for the good of the whole Family, hers & mine, the sum'e of about an hundred, & twenty pounds in Countrey pay, by reason of some Lane of her owne, (not inventoryed, as her Husband Crosbeys Estate being made over to Feoffees in trust, for Her use before) & by mutuall Consent sold at Topsfeild: my selfe having paid about an hundred pounds in silver & as silver, to satisfy her former Husbands debts, as will appeare by bills taken up, & accounts now in my hand, not at all accounting my Time, paines, or expences, nor the charge I have bestowed upon Her Three Sons in theyre Education to this day: Out of my Hearty Love, & good will towards Her (the former Sale at Topsfeild standing good, & firme) I truly give, & hereby Assigne all Bills, & Bonds whatsoever, relating to Her Husband Crosbey in my keeping, (all of which I have satisfyed) to my said wife, & doe hereby acquit & exonerate her from making satisfaction to any children, or Heyres of mine, for any such disbursements, strictly charging all mine, to forbeare demanding any payment for the same: yet advising my said deare Wife, as sole Administratrix to Mr Crosbeyes Estate, to keepe the staffe in her owne Hand, that neither Forreigne, nor domesticke claimers may recover any thing of Her, that I have payed, Her Bowells being more likely to yerne towards Her children, then theyrs towards theyre mother: Likewise I freely returne to her the Estate, that was Mr Crosbeys, to which shee is Administratrix, not at all Expended by mee (as shee well knowes) but as I found It, so I leave It, except one small parcell thereof disposed by herselfe, to one Pearty, for the advantage of the whole: Also whatsoever Household goods sometimes Mr Crosbeyes, which my wife at any time brought to Hampton & are not worne out in the use of the whole, I returne them to her, in the Condition, they shall be in, at my decease, desiring Her, & charging her, to Bee Kind to, & Prudent for, Her, & my son Rowland---& for her Encouragement To Remember mee, & to endeavour to Her Utmost, with others hereafter mentioned, the good Education of Rowland Her son, & mine, I doe give unto my aid wife ten pounds yearely out of the Rent of my Farme at Muddy River during the terme of Her widowhood to Her Selfe, but after Her Marriage, or if shee dye before, the said sum'e of ten pounds to bee disposed towards Rowlands subsisting, not exceeding the terme of twenty yeares ensuing the date of my decease: I also give unto Her two milch Cowes, such as shee shall chuse, out of my stocke, for Her use, only if Rowland live to bee one & twenty yeares of Age I require them, or the Value of them to bee returned to Rowland, by His mother, or Her Heires, if He dye before that time, let her keep of them, what shee doth not bestow, on His decent Funerall. I also give unto her, & Rowland Joyntly, whatsoever estate shall be due to mee, by the decease of my Honord Father Wade, which property is at my disposall: I also give her the Iron tongs, and Andirons Com'only used in the Parlour, as also for her further Encouragement to due care of Rowland for this life, & a Better, I give to my sd wife, the time I have in Joseph Elkins, whome I require to serve Her faithfully that shee may the better looke to her selfe, & son as also I require my sd wife to fullfill my part of the Indenture to sd Joseph.
As for my Deare Children, which god hath graciously given mee, my sons are two, John, & Rowland, the former already brought up to Learning, & through gods goodnesse, as able to live as my selfe, therefore I doe for the space of twenty yeares after my decease Appoint the sd son John, his heires, to pay to my son Rowland (if living) the full sum'e of ten pounds yearly out of the Rent of my farme at Muddy River, for His use, with His mother during her widdowhood, but to his only use after her marriage; for twenty yeares after my decease & considering the dividing such a Farme might spoile it, I therefore, for the fulfilling of the Legacy aforesd, doe bequeath unto Him my Farme at Muddy River with all Buildings thereupon, all Fences, Orchards, Meadowes, Marsh, Pastures, and Arable Grounds, with timber, Priviledges, & Appurtenances thereunto belonging, the Same to Have, & to Hold to Him, & His Heires for ever, Hee paying to His mother, & Rowland as abovesd, but in case my son John dye without Lawfull Issue, my son Rowland shall Inherit the said Farme, He paying such Legacyes to His Sisters, as shall be herein Appointed: & if both dye without Issue as Aforesaid, it shall be divided among my daughters, & theyre Heires, that shall be living: & if Rowland should dye before twenty yeares expired after my Decease, the ten pounds remaining of what should be paid of those twenty yeares, shall be Equally divided among my daughters, or theyre heirs living. Item, I give to my two sons my Library to bee equally divided between them, for theyre use & benefit, only excepted, what English Books I may give to my Daughters for theyre Instruction: Item I give to my son John a guilt silver Tankard; as also my Red Curtaines Lined with silke, red coverlid, Carpett, & Cupboard cloaths but if my son John dye without Lawfull Issue, I will them all, of not worne Out, to fall to Rowland, & if Rowland dye without Lawfull Issue, They shall descend to the next Heire male, borne among my Daughters.
Item to Rowland I give my biggest silver Beere Bowle, for ever at His dispose As for my Remaining estate, which is in plate, Household goods, Horses, Catle, etc: I doe will It bee divided betwixt Rowland, & my six daughters, as is after expressed, my Three Eldest Daughters, Dorothy, Anne, & Sarah, to have my three silver Beere Cups remaining, they chusing each of them one, according to theyre Ages: My three Younger Daughters, Elizabeth, Mercy, & Maryah, to Have my silver wine cups, & spoones Among them to make up, what they want of the value of theyre sisters cups, as farre as It will reach: all other Household goods whatsoever (not already disposed) whether of Woollen, Linnen, Pewter, or Brasse, or Iron, Feather beds, wooden ware, chayres, stooles Cushions etc: & catle, Mares, & Horses, to be Equally divided among Rowland, & his sixe Sisters, only what any Daughter hath received upon marryage, before that time, to bee deducted out of the abovesd Division; excepting the plate mentioned, which I would have each enjoy, as It is written: only there is a chest, that was formerly bought of Dr Groth which I give to Rowland, together with a Birding Peice
Besides, & above the Division mentioned, I give my first Wives Trunke to Maryah that shee may have some Remembrance of Her Mother. As also besides the Division forenamed, I give to Elizabeth, a Table Cloath, & six Napkins marked R.O. said to bee given her by Mr Richard Oliver, at my decease, or her marriage; I also acknowledge my pocket Pistoll to bee given my Son John long agoe:
Furthermore if my wife Prudence shall not accept of my foregoing Legacyes to Her, but require her Thirds according to custome of Law, then I doe hereby make void my foregoing gifts bequeathed to Her, both of bonds, & bills satisfyed be mee & of ten pounds per Annum, as relating to Her Selfe, or what ever else mentioned out of my Estate
And to this my Last Will, & Testament, I doe Constitute, & Appoint my Beloved Sons, John, & Rowland Joint Exequetors, & in case of ye death of ye One the Survivour to bee Sole Exequetor, & by reason of Rowlands Nonage, I Appoint, & Earnestly desire my Deare Couzen Mr Cotton Mather, & my Dear Brother Mr Nathaniell Wade to bee tender Guardians to Rowland, and Overseers to the Accomplishment of this my Will, for which the Lord will Reward them, & my sons will thanke them, whome I fervently begge to doe theyre Utmost, to assist my Deare wife in Educating Rowland to Learning, & if that bee not attainable, to some worth, & Noble Employment.
Further, my Daughter Elizabeth being Single, I beseech my Honored Uncle Mr Joseph Dudley, to take the Care of Her.
My Daughter Mercy is of age to chuse a Guardian, I pray God to direct her to doe It wisely; My Daughter Maryah being Youngest, I com'end her to the Lord, & to my son & daughter Smith praying them to take care of Her for Her best good, till shee bee of Age to chuse a Guardian, or provide for her selfe; Item, what Estate the Honorable Governour Bradstreet shall by his last will bequeath to mee, or my Children by his Daughter, according to Promise, if Hee Himselfe doe not divide It by name, my Will is, It bee divided among them Equally. I can in no wise worthily Gratify my Deare Brother, & Couzen, Overseers of this my Will, but only request them to chuse for themselves, what Authors a peice, they please, in my study, as a poore token of unfeigned Love, & Gratitude./ Thus Com'ending my selfe your selves, my Dear Wife, Sons, & Daughters to the Infinite Grace of God All sufficient I doe in the presence of God, & man revoke all former wills & signe This, my Last Will, & Testament with my Hand, & seale, May the Twentieth, one thousand, sixe hundred Eighty & Foure, while I am well, & in good Health
Seaborne Cotton [seal]
This Instrument was signed, &
sealed by Seaborne Cotton, &
Affirmed by Him to bee His last
will, & Testament, Before us Wit-
nesses: sold) in the first page, of
my decease) in the 2d page inter-
lined before signing, & sealing.
Live) also interline in page 2d
Memorandum, if my son John dye, so as Rowland live to possess that Farme, Hee shall pay sixty pounds, to my sixe daughters, or to theyre Heires living, by paying ten pounds yearly, for sixe yeares, paying the first yeare to ye eldest Daughter, & son Successively yeare, by yeare to the Rest, according to theyre Age; except the persons concerned, doe otherwise mutually Agree; this also I signe the day, & yeare above written
Mr Cotton of Hampton owned this
Instrument to bee His last will & Tes-
tament, as above exprest, June 2.
1684. before us witnesses
[Proved October 7, 1686.]
[Inventory of the estate of Rev. Seaborn Cotton, who died April 20, 1686; taken April 26, 1686; amount, £309.13.6; amount of goods given to Mrs. Prudence Cotton which belonged to her former husband, Mr. Crosby, £68.2.0; signed by John Sanborn, Henry Dow, Samuel Sherburne, and John Tuck.]