Different Worlds: The Leslie Smith Family

Deed of Settlement by Robert Leslie in favour of His Wife and Children, 1815

The front of Robert Leslie's will. The front of Robert Leslie's will, dated 1815, is shown on the left, full size. Below the original inscription, someone has pencilled in some words which are very hard to make out, with the exception of two dates: "11th Sept 1777" and "21st Sept". These dates puzzled us for some time, since they seemed to be too late to be references to Robert's birth or baptism. Once we started searching online databases, and rediscovered the old family tree, however, we discovered that these are the dates of birth and christening of his daughter, Agnes Leslie, my great-great-great-grandmother, who married James Smith.

The first page of the will is embossed with a seal (illustrated below in close up) indicating that he paid one pound and ten shillings either to have it drawn up or to have it officially recorded. That was a substantial amount of money at that time, and to be able to spend that on a will suggests a level of material comfort - even moderate wealth.

Detail of Robert Leslie's will, showing the embossed seal on the first page.  The seal consists of the royal coat of arms, with the words 'ONE POUND TEN SHILLINGS' below.

Details of Robert Leslie's will

In his will, Robert left everything to his eldest son, Robert Leslie, with some conditions and exceptions.

He specified that "the Household Plenishing & Furniture bed & table linen of all kinds" should be reserved for the use of his wife if she outlived him, with the exception of "the best bed & cloathing for it, a press and girnel", which were to go to his eldest son with the house, land, movable effects and money. If his wife did outlive him, then on her death, the furnishings and the linen that she had taken for her own use were to be equally divided between his eldest son and his four daughters. He bequeathed to his wife the right for her to bequeath her clothes to whoever she wished.

He then went on to place a condition on his eldest son - if his wife Agnes outlived him, his son was obliged to pay Agnes, his mother, an allowance to be calculated as (I think!) the interest on one half of the value of the movable effects which he was bequeathing to his eldest son. This allowance was to be paid in two parts each year, at Whitsunday and Martinmas. A 20% penalty would be payable in addition if his eldest son failed to make any of these payments.

Perhaps to avoid arguments about how much this allowance should be, he then specified that the movable effects, on whose value the allowance would depend, should be inventoried and valued by "three neutral men of Skill". One of these men was to be chosen by his eldest son, one by his wife, and the third jointly by his four daughters.

He then placed two further conditions on his eldest son. One year after the death of either himself or his wife (whichever lived longer), his eldest son was to pay the sum of 10 Merks Scots (Scottish pounds) to David Leslie, the youngest son. This is the only mention made of David in the will. At that point also, a payment was to be made to each of his four daughters and to the husbands of Agnes and Elizabeth, consisting of equal shares of one quarter of the value of the movable effects bequeathed to his eldest son.

Transcript of Robert Leslie'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.

Know all men by these presents That I Robert Leslie Tenant in Myreside for the love favour & affection I have & bear to my Wife & Children herein after named and certain other good causes and considerations me hereto moving have given granted assign'd and Conveyed and do by these presents with & under the burdens, provisions, and reservations under written Give Grant Assign and Convey to and in favour of Robert Leslie my eldest son & his heirs and assignees all & Sundry Lands, Tenements, Tacks, and other heretable subjects with the whole goods, gear, debts sums of money, Crop & Stocking upon my farm Bonds, Bills, notes, accompts, or other documents concerning the same, which at the time of my death, shall be pertaining & belonging or addebted & owing to me any manner of way whatsoever Dispensing with the generality hereof & admitting the same to be as Valid, Sufficient, & effectual as if every particular, generally above assign'd & conveyed were herein specially engross'd with Power to the said Robert Leslie my son immediately after my death to intromit with use and dispose on the whole effects above assign'd & Conveyed and to do all manner of diligence for recovering the same as I could have done myself while in life Reserving always the Household Plenishing & Furniture bed & table linen of all kinds (excepting the best bed & cloathing for it, a press and girnel) that shall be pertaining to me and within my dwelling house at the time of my decease All which furniture & plenishing (with the above exception) I assign and make over to Agnes Henderson my spouse in case she survive me to be used & enjoyed by her during all the days of her life with this provision that after her death the same shall be equally divided among the said Robert Leslie my son, and Ann Leslie, Agnes Leslie Spouse of James Smith Weaver in Myreside, Elizabeth Leslie Spouse of James Dowie Mason in Blebo-Craigs, and Margaret Leslie my daughters With power to the said Agnes Henderson to leave or bequeath her wearing aparel to such person or persons as she may think proper But providing and Declaring always as it is hereby expressly provided and declared that the said Robert Leslie my son shall be bound & obliged, as by acceptance hereof, he binds & obliges himself and his foresaids, to content and pay not only my just and lawful debts with the charges of my deathbed and funeral, but also the following sums of money and provisions as after specified viz with the payment of the Interest of the one half of the moveable property and effects above assign'd to him, to the said Agnes Henderson his Mother during her lifetime at two terms in the year Whitsunday and Martinmas by equal portions to commence at the first of these terms that shall happen immediately after my death with a fifth part more of penalty in case of failzie And in order that the precise amount of the said moveable property may be fix'd and ascertained I appoint the same to be Inventoried and Valued by three neutral men of Skill, one to be named by the said Agnes Henderson, the other by the said Robert Leslie, and the third by the saids Ann, Agnes, Elizabeth & Margaret Leslies, and that with first conveniency after my death, also with the Payment of Ten Merks Scots to David Leslie Mason in Dundee my youngest Son and likewise with the payment of the fourth part of the price or value of my said moveable or personal property as the same shall be ascertained in manner foresaid, to the saids Ann, Agnes, Elizabeth, and Margaret Leslie, and the husbands of the said Agnes & Elizabeth for their Interest, share & share alike These two last provisions or bequests are to be payable upon the lapse of twelve months from the death of the longest liver of the said Agnes Henderson and me with the legal Interest thereafter during the not payment which provisions to my wife and children I hereby declare to be in full of all that they or any one of them can ask or claim by and thro' my death Reserving always full power and liberty to me at any time of my life to revoke alter or annul these presents in whole or in part at pleasure and I dispense with the not delivery hereof but declare that these presents if not altered shall be Valid & effectual tho' found in my custody or in that of any other at my death and I Consent to the Registration hereof in the Books of Council and Session or others competent therein to remain for preservation and that all execution necessary may pass hereon in form as effeirs and thereto Constitute my provs In Witness whereof I have subscribed these presents (written upon this and the two preceding pages of Stamped paper by Robert Hedderick for Geo. Tod writer in Edin) At Myreside the twentieth day of January One thousand Eight hundred & fifteen years Before these Witnesses Henry Hedderick Tenant in Cassindonat and the said Robert Hedderick.

[signed] Robert Leslie
[signed] Henry Hedderick, Witness
[signed] R. Hedderick, Witness

Other illustrations:

Return to: Robert Leslie & Agnes Henderson


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