Different Worlds: The Leslie Smith Family

Disposition and Deed of Settlement by Mr James Smith, 1862

The front of the existing copy of James Smith's will. We don't have the original of James Smith's will. We have a copy dated 1867, the front of which is shown on the left, full size.

Details of James Smith's will

James appears to have left everything to his wife, Agnes, for her use during her lifetime. After that, everything was to be split between his children in various proportions. He also appointed his wife and children to be the executors of his will.

He describes in detail a piece of land "of the late William Morris lands of Radernie", specifying its size (four acres Scots measure or five and a quarter acres Imperial measure - Scots acres were larger than Imperial acres) and detailing its boundaries:

This land, "with the buildings erected thereon", on the death of his wife, is to be split between his children, with one quarter going to his son David (presumably his eldest son?), one quarter to his daughter Agnes (unmarried, and living with her parents at Radernie), and one eight each to his other children, Marion, Robert, John and James.

Everything else that he might own at the time of his death is, on the death of his wife, to be split equally among his children. There was one exception, however. He specifies that his eight day clock is to go to Agnes, the unmarried daughter, along with all of the "vouchers and instructions thereof" (a highly practical specification - it is frustrating to acquire a complicated mechanism if you don't have the instructions to go with it!). Perhaps this is a special "thank you" to the daughter who stayed at home and helped to look after her parents as they grew older?

One can imagine her, perhaps, delighting in the sound of the clock's chimes as a child, and later, caring for it and keeping it wound as part of her duties around the house as an unmarried, adult woman. Did she choose not to marry? Did no-one make an offer of marriage? Did she have a sweetheart who died before they could wed? Was she, perhaps, disabled in some way? The glimpses of people which documents, like this will, provide, generate so many questions which can never be answered!

Transcript of James Smith's will

The following is an accurate transcript of the will. I have tried to remain faithful to the capitalisation, punctuation, spelling, etc, used in the original.

I James Smith, Isuar, Radernie, Considering it to be a duty incumbent on me to Settle my affairs during my lifetime, so as to prevent all disputes after my Death, and for the love, favour, and affection which I have and bear to the parties aftermentioned Have therefore Given, Granted, Assigned and Disponed as I do hereby with and under the burdens, conditions, provisions, & reservations aftermentioned, Give, Grant, Assign, and Dispone to and in favor of Agnes Leslie, my spouse inliferent for her liferent use [allenasly?], and to my sons and daughters, David Smith, Millwright, Glasgow, Agnes Smith, residing at Radernie, Marion Smith, Relict of William Anderson, Gardener, Crail, Robert Leslie Smith, Merchant, Dunoon, John Johnstone Smith, Bootmaker, St Andrews and James Smith, Merchant, Glasgow, & their heirs and assignees whomsoever in fee, & that in the proportions aftermentioned heritably and irredeemably All and Whole these Four acres or thereby Scots measure or Five acres and a quarter or thereby Imperial Measure of the late William Morris lands of Radernie, lying to the south of the High Road from Cupar to Lathockar, with the buildings erected thereon, bounded on the east by the lands of Heigham, on the South by the lands of Higham and the lands of Colonel Alexander Bethune of Blebo, on the west by the lands of the Said Colonel Alexander Bethune, and on the north by the said high road - all as presently possessed by me, and all my right, title and interest therein - all lying in the Parish of Cameron and Sheriffdom of Fife, as to which lands it is provided and declared in the Feu Disposition by the said William Morris in my favor that he & his foresaids shall be bound to free and relieve their said vassals of all minister's stipend & School Masters Salary exigible out of the said lands by past and in time coming, and of any other burden of whatever Kind, which may affect the same in all time coming - said subjects being conveyed to my said children & their foresaids in the proportions & Shares aftermentioned. Viz. Two-Eighth parts thereof to the said David Smith & his foresaids, Two-Eighth parts thereof to the said Agnes Smith & her foresaids, & one eighth part thereof to each of the said Marion, Robert, John Johnstone, & James Smiths & their foresaids: and further I do hereby Give, Grant, Assign and Dispone under the burdens, conditions & reservations aftermentioned to the said Agnes Leslie in liferent as aforesaid, and to the said David, Agnes, Marion, Robert, John Johnstone & James Smiths equally & their foresaids, all other lands, houses, & heritable estate of every description that shall belong to me at the time of my death; as also all & Sundry, Goods, Gear, debts & sums of money, household furniture, and in general the whole moveable means, estate & effects of whatever Kind and denomination or wherever situated at present belonging and addebted, or which shall belong and be owing to me at the time of my death, with the exception of my eight day clock, which I hereby give & bequeath to my daughter Agnes over and above her Share of my moveable estate, together with the whole vouchers & instructions thereof, and all that has followed or may be competent to follow thereon: And for rendering these presents more effectual, I hereby nominate and appoint the said Agnes Leslie, David, Agnes, Marion, Robert, John Johnstone, & James Smiths and the survivors & survivor of them to be my executors, with full power to them to intromit with my whole moveable estate, to give up Inventories thereof, & to confirm the same: and I resign the said lands & others for new Infeftment, with and under the burdens & conditions before referred to, and in the proportions before mentioned: and I assign the writs & evidents: And I also assign the rents from and after the period of my death: and I grant warrandice: And I hereby revoke all former Settlements made & executed by me at any time heretofore: Reserving always my own liferent of the whole estate & effects, heritable & moveable, real & personal above conveyed: with full power to me at any time in my life, & even on deathbed to alter, innovate or revoke these presents in whole or in part as I may see proper: Dispensing with the delivery hereof, & Declaring these presents to be good & valid, & effectual, though found lying by me at the time of my death, or in the Custody of any other person for my behoof; And I consent to the Registration hereof for preservation & execution, & also to Registration in the General or Particular Register of Sasines. In Witness whereof, I have subscribed these presents written upon this and the preceding page by James Ritchie, Apprentice to William Woodcock, Writer, St Andrews, at Radernie the thirtieth day of July Eighteen Hundred & Sixty two Years, before these Witnesses Andrew Paton, Miner, Radernie, & William Carswell Henderson, Bookseller, St Andrews.

[signed] James Smith
[signed] Andrew Paton, Witness
[signed] W. C. Henderson, Witness

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