The last Will and Testament of me Sarah Gwinnett of Dudley in the County of Worcester, Widow, made and published this seventh of May One Thousand eight hundred and thirty eight. I direct that all of my funeral and testamentary expenses be paid as directed by my executors out of my personal estate and appoint Mr. Richard Haines of Tipton in the County of Stafford, Coalmaster and Mr. William Brown of Dudley, aforesaid Victualler, the executors of this will and the guardians of my legatees hereinafter named during their respective minorities.
I give direct and bequeath to my niece Hannah Fisher the daughter of the late George Fisher who is hereinafter designated as my annuitant for and during the term of her natural life subject nevertheless to the proviso hereinafter contained the clear annual sum of £26 to be paid to her without deduction by equal weekly payments or instalments of ten shillings each on the Monday of every week, the first payment to commence on each of the same days as happen after my decease. And I charge that the said annuity on all those of my freehold messuages or dwellinghouse and other premises in Stone Street in Dudley aforesaid and now occupied by myself and by the said William Brown and Henry Kirkman and which are hereinafter devised to my trustees and made saleable or disposable subject to the claims of the said annuitant under the directions hereinafter contained.
And in case the said annual sum or any of the weekly instalments thereof shall be unpaid for the space of fourteen days next after any of the aforesaid days of payment then and so often as the same shall happen it shall be lawful for my annuitant to enter upon my said three messuages and premises in Stone Street so charged with the said annuity or any part thereof to restrain for such arrears or so much as shall be then unpaid and all charges occasioned by the non payment thereof and to sell such distress or distresses in like manner as for rent reserved by lease or common service.
And in case the said annual sum of twenty six pounds or any of the instalments thereof shall be unpaid for the space of thirty days next after any of the aforesaid days of payment then and so often as the same shall happen it shall be lawful for my annuitant (although no demand shall have been made for the same) to enter upon and hold the said three messuages and premises so charged with such an annual sum or any part thereof and receive and retain the rents and profits for her own use until by means thereof or otherwise she shall be fully paid her arrears of the said annuity which shall be due at the time of such entry or which shall afterwards become due during the time of her possession and all costs and charges occasioned by the non-payment thereof and such possession when taken shall be without impeachment of waste provided always that if the said annuitant shall marry then I revoke the said bequest of the said annuity of twenty six pounds hereinbefore given to her and direct that the same shall thenceforth cease and determine and in lieu thereof I give and bequeath to my said annuitant one annuity or yearly sum of thirteen pounds during the remainder of her natural life subject nevertheless to the proviso hereinafter contained such last mentioned annuity to be charged and chargeable in the same way and manner and to be paid and payable by the reduced weekly instalments of five shillings each on the same days and to be raised and recovered in the same mode and with the same powers as are hereinbefore expressed, prescribed and appointed with reference to the said annuity of twenty six pounds, the first payment of the said reduced annuity of thirteen pounds to begin and be made on such of the said weekly days as shall happen after the marriage of the said annuitant.
And it is my express wish that the said reduced annuity of £13 or any part thereof shall not be subject or in any manner liable to the debts control or engagements or intermeddling of any husband with whom my said annuitant may marry but that the same from time to time be for her own sole, separate and peculiar use and benefit and her receipt or receipts notwithstanding her coverture shall effectually discharge so much of the said reduced annuity as in such receipt or receipts shall be expressed to have been received provided also and I further declare that any sale, mortgage, charge, assignment or other disposition in the way of anticipation which my said annuitant shall make or attempt or agree to make of either of the said annuities shall be absolutely void.
I give devise and bequeath to the before named Richard Haines and William Brown who are subsequently designated as Trustees and which designation is to include the Trustees for the time being of my will all those my said three messuages and other premises in Stone Street in Dudley aforesaid (subject nevertheless to and chargeable with the claims of my said annuitant) and all my third part share and such other share, proportion and interest to which I may be entitled of and in all those four messuages, dwellinghouses and premises situated at Cinder Banks in Netherton in the Parish of Dudley aforesaid and all other real estate in which I may have any interest or over which I shall have any dominion at the time of my decease and whether I shall be seized thereof at a wholly or in undivided shares with the rights, members and appurtenancies and all my furniture, plate, linen, china and other household effects (except such as are hereinafter specifically bequeathed).
And all my monies, mortgages and other securities, personal estate and effects of every description that I shall die possessed of to hold, take and receive all the said real and personal estates unto my said trustees, their heirs and executors, administrators and assigns according to the nature an quality thereof respectively, upon trust to set, let or otherwise manage my messuages, lands and real estate but as to my three houses in Stone Street subject to the claims of my said annuitant and lay out and invest such of my spare monies as shall not then be invested or required for the purposes of advancement as hereinafter mentioned and also the proceeds to be derived from the sale of my household goods and other personal estate after paying my debts, funeral, testamentary and executors expenses in any of their names in any of the Parliamentary Stocks or Public Funds of Great Britain or at interest on Government or real securities with power to vary alter or transpose such trust monies or any present or future securities for other stocks, funds or securities of a like nature when and so often as it may be thought expedient.
And I declare that my trustees shall stand possessed of the clear produce of the rents and profits of my real estate (after paying for its repairs, other necessary outgoings and the claims of my said annuitant in regard to the houses in Stone Street) and of the dividends, interests and annual and other produce of the stocks, funds or securities in trust to pay and apply such monies and income or so much thereof as may be requisite in the due maintenance, education, bringing up, placing out and otherwise for the benefit of the four children of my late nephew, Samuel Fisher, viz. Job, George, Sarah and Samuel (who are hereinafter designated as my legatees) in such way and manner as my trustees may consider most advisable accumulating the surplus if any in and of the common fund until the youngest of my legatees shall attain the age of 21 years.
And I direct that when my youngest legatee shall attain the age of 21 years, my trustees shall absolutely sell and dispose of all my real estate and hereditaments and parts and shares thereof or join in any sale or resale with the parties who may be jointly interested with me in any property in which sale it shall not be necessary for my annuitant or legatee to concur but nevertheless as to any sale of my three houses in Stone Street the same shall be subject to the claims of my annuitant if then existing.
And as to the clear surplus of such monies and converted property upon trust to pay the same to my said legatees in equal shares and proportions with benefit of survivorship and subject to such other provisions as are hereinafter contained provided and I declare it is to be my will that my legatees (notwithstanding the postponement of the division of my property until the youngest of them attain the age of 21 years) or shall acquire vested interests in their respective portions on their severally attaining their majorities.
But if any one or more of such legatees shall die under the age of 21 years then as well the original share of every legatee so dying as also the share or shares which may accrue in virtue of this proviso shall go to the other of my legatees in equal proportions if more than one. I direct that notwithstanding the trusts hereinbefore contained my trustees may if they think fit as and when every legatee being a male shall attain the age of 21 years or being a female shall arrive at that age or be married raise and pay to such legatee in part satisfaction of his or her share of my trust estate and for the promotion of his or her advancement in life such an amount as will not exceed one half of the estimated or expectant share of such legatee to be ascertained by an estimate of my real and personal estate and to be accounted for by such legatee on the distribution of my trust property.
I make the following specific bequests to above named legatees viz. to the said Job Fisher my best silver watch and another silver watch to the said Samuel Fisher and to the said George Fisher my other silver watch. To the said Sarah Fisher my two silver gravy spoons, my six silver meat spoons, my twelve silver teaspoons and my silver cream jug and silver sugar tongs and to my said annuitant Hannah Fisher and my said legatee Sarah Fisher the whole of my wearing apparel.
And for the greater satisfaction of all my purchasers and other parties who may deal in my affairs and property, I declare it to be my will that it be lawful for my trustees to give receipts for all sums of monies payable to them in virtue of this will and all persons paying them any monies and taking their receipts for the same respectively shall not afterwards be answerable or accountable for the loss, misapplication or non-application of any amount thereby acknowledged.
And I declare that no purchaser shall be obliged to ascertain the occurrence or existence or any event or purpose in or for which a sale is hereby authorised to be made nor to enquire into or take notice of any matter connected with the propriety or regularity of ant sale, I authorize my trustees in disposing of my real estate to sell the same together or in lots by a public auction or private contract subject as to my said three houses in Stone Street to the claim of my said annuitant if then existing and subject as to all my real estate to sure stipulations relative to this title or to the evidence of title or to the payment of the purchase money by instalments or otherwise as they may judge expedient or as their solicitor may advise with power to fix a reserved bidding and buy in the whole or any lot and to rescind or vary any contract for sale without being liable for consequential losses and also to exercise such assurances as may be requisite for completing any sale.
And it is my will that my trustees for the time being shall be of as full liberty notwithstanding the directions hereinbefore contained to sell or dispose of all or any of my property if they shall deem it advantageous to do so before my youngest legatee shall attain the age of 21 years for which purpose they shall have all the powers for effecting the same and are hereinbefore provided and as amply as thought the same were here repeated.
And in the construction of this will every word importing the singular number or the masculine gender shall be understood to include several matters as well as one matter and several persons as well as one person and females as well as males and every word importing the plural number shall extend and be applied to one person or thing as well as several persons or things unless it be otherwise specifically provided or there is one thing in the pretext or context repugnant to such construction.
I give to the said Richard Haines and William Brown, their heirs, executors, administrators and assigns all the messuages, lands, tenements and heraditaments which shall be vested in or upon any trusts or by way of mortgage accordant to the nature and quality thereof upon the several trusts and subject to the equity of redemption subsisting or capable of taking effect in the same but any money secured to me by such mortgages shall be considered and applied as part of my trust fund.
I declare that if the trustees appointed in this my will or to be appointed under this proviso or either of them, their executors, administrators and assigns shall die or be desirous of being discharged from or decline or be incapable to act in the trusts hereby in them reposed before the same shall be fully executed then and in every such case it shall be lawful for the trustees or for the surviving or continuing trustee appointed in this my will whether they or he shall accept the trusts thereof or shall renounce the same or for the trustees and the surviving and continuing trustee to be appointed under this clause or the executors or administrators of such last surviving and continuing trustee by any instrument in writing from time to time to nominate and appoint any fit persons or person to be trustees or a trustee in the place of the trustees or trustee so dying or desirous of being discharged or becoming unwilling or incapable to act as aforesaid and when and so often as any new trustee shall be appointed as aforesaid all the trust estates, monies and premises or such of them as shall then be subject to the provisions of this will shall with all convenient speed be conveyed, assigned and transferred so and in such manner as that the same may be legally and effectually vested in the person or persons so to be appointed as aforesaid either solely or jointly with the surviving or continuing trustees or trustee as occasionally shall require to the use upon the trust and for the ends, interests and purposes hereinbefore declared or such of them as shall by then subsisting or capable of taking effect and every person so to be appointed shall have and be entitled to the same powers as if he had been a trustee in this will.
I will and declare that the trustees hereby appointed or to be appointed as a aforesaid, his heirs, executors and administrators shall be charged and chargeable only for such monies as they shall respectively actually receive in virtue of the trusts in them hereby in them reposed notwithstanding their or any of their giving or joining in giving any receipt for the sake of conformity.
And I direct that none of them shall be answerable or accountable for any banker or broker with which the said trust monies, premises shall be placed for safe custody nor for any default or neglect of the others or other of them for any involuntary losses that may happen to my property.
And I specifically declare that any trustee who shall pay over to his co-trustee or do or receive in any act to deceive him to receive any monies with a view to the same being applied to the purposes of my will shall not be obliged to see to the due application or be responsible for the misapplication thereof and I empower my trustees with and out of the monies that shall come to their respective hands in virtue of the trusts aforesaid to retain and reimburse themselves respectively and allow each other all costs, charges, damages and expenses and full fees to counsel, solicitors and attorneys which they may sustain, expend or disburse in the execution of the aforesaid powers
In witness whereof, I the said Sarah Gwinnett, the testatrix, have hereunto subscribed my name the day and year before written.
This will was signed by the said testatrix, Sarah Gwinnett, in the presence of us who in her presence and in the presence of each other have subscribed our names as witnesses: William Fellowes Snr. & George Morris
Proved at London, 14 Sept 1841 before the Judge by the oaths of Richard Haines & William Brown the executors to whom administration was granted having been first sworn (by common) duly to administer.
[Note: This was a long and complicated will with no punctuation. I have endeavoured to punctuate it to make sense of it – but I am not sure I have succeeded!]