Excerpts from a bound volume of the Probate Records of Essex County gives a detailed listing of belongings and wealth of certain residents of Essex County in the 17th century.
To access the complete Probate Records for towns in Essex County visit:
Essex County Probate Records Part I
Click here for a glossary of terms from these colonial probate records:
The Last Will and Testament of John Spofard, Sr.
I commit my soul into the hands of God who gave it, and my body to the earth, to be decently buried, and as to that estate which the lord hath given, dispose of it as follows after my debts are paid.
Imprimis: – As for my dear and loving wife, I give to her the lease of the house and lands of Mrs. Prudence Cotton.
Also I give to her all the household stuff, to be at her disposal, except the arms and ammunition.
Also I give to her two cows, and one calf, also four sheep. I give to her and my son Francis, to be equally divided between, one young horse, also to have the use of four acres of land at the farm during her life. Furthermore, I will that my son Francis his portion be at my wife’s disposal till he comes to the age of twenty-one years if she live so long, for that end that he may be helpful to her to carry on her husbandry work.
Item: That which I give to my son Francis, is the two young oxen, and the mare and the cart, and all the furniture belonging to husbandry. Also one yearling calf, these to be at my wife’s disposal till he be of age above said, and these things, or the worth of them, to be faithfully paid to him.
Also I give him the small gun, and four acres of land at great meadows, and what may so fall by virtue of any town grant.
Item: I give to my son John, two steers coming three years old, and the long fowling piece, and one half of the lease of the farm together with twenty pounds stock I formerly gave him.
Item: I give to my son Thomas, my village lands, and the gray horse and two sheep, and one spring hog, and one two year old heifer and the great musket.
Item: I give to my son Samuel, the other half of the lease of the farm and two young steers, one that come three year old and one that come four year old and one spring hog, and about ten pound stock I have already given him.
Item: I give to my daughter Elizabeth one two year old heifer and two sheep.Item: I give to Hannah one cow, one three year old heifer, and two sheep.Item: I give to my daughter Mary one cow and one calf and two sheep.
Item: I give to my daughter Sarah, one cow and one calf and two sheep.
Item: I also appoint my loving wife and my son Thomas to be joint executors of this my last will, and my children to be paid at marriage or at coming one and twenty years old, and if any die before, their portion to be divided among the rest.
In witness whereof I have set my hand and seal 8th 8th month,
(Oct. 7TH) 1678.
Signed, sealed and delivered in presence of us,
John Johnson, Philip Nelson.
In court held at Ipswich, 6th. 9th. Month, 1678, this will proved to be the last will and testament of John Spaford, by the oaths of Philip Nelson and John Johnson.
Massachusetts. Probate Court (Essex County). Essex County, Massachusetts Probate Records. Boston: Research Publication Co., 1903.
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