Appendix: The Will Of John Preston Senior

John Preston senior's will is dated 30th April 1767 and was witnessed by Robert Calvert, Jonathan Jackson and George Burton (or Buxton?). It made provision as follows:

To his wife Jane
• Her clothes
• Gold rings
• Any books of piety and devotion belonging to him that she should choose 'AS LONG AS SHE DOES NOT REMARRY'

To his son, John Preston
• Law books
• Precedent books precedent draughts pleadings cases manuscripts and library (except as above)
• Contents of his office and John Preston Jnr’s chamber – writing desk cupboards boxes chairs shelves fire-shovel shovel tongs implements utensils household goods and furniture

To daughter, Mary Sollitt and her husband Joshua Sollitt, and daughter Jane
(or to any of them who are still alive 12 calendar months after his decease AND NOT OTHERWISE)
• £10.00 apiece and this with the provision made at the time of marriage for his 2 daughters that it “shall be in full of their respective claims and demands in or to my real or personal estate”

To such of his older 4 sisters who are living at the end of 6 calendar months after his decease
• 40 shillings apiece specifically to buy “mourning” to be paid into their own hands and that it shall not be at the disposition of their respective husbands.

The remainder of the Estate he placed with his son (John Preston Jnr), his executors and Assigns to settle his estate as follows:
• To pay his funeral expenses
• To pay his existing debts
• To settle several pecuniary legacies given and bequeathed in the will
• To permit his wife, Jane,” to have and enjoy one full moiety or half part of the residue and surplus thereof for her life for her own benefit IF SHE SHALL SO LONG CONTINUE MY WIDOW”
• One full moiety of the residue and surplus to his son, John Preston, for his own life and benefit
• “One full moiety or half part of all and every my messuages lands tenements hereditaments and real estate to my wife SO LONG AS SHE CONTINUE MY WIDOW
• The other full moiety of messuages lands tenements hereditaments and real estate to his son, John Preston and all the right title and interest therein to his son and his heirs and assignees for ever.
• His son John Preston is appointed sole Executor.

The will specifically states that his wife is only to have her share if she makes no other claims and it is in lieu of her “Jointure and Dower”. If she is to make any other claim she will lose all benefits stated and anything to which she would have been intitled should be given instead 'to such person or persons who would have been intitled were she dead'.

Several lines of the original text are completely illegible, having been deliberately obscured by a painstaking process of crossing through every individual letter! At the end of the will as we now have it there are notes attached by John Preston (Jnr) and Henry Taylorson dated 1807 which show that the will was not acted upon when John Preston senior died. In fact, it had been 'lost' until two years after the date of his son's will, and never acted upon at all! John Preston junior in his note wrote that all the witnesses to his father’s will have now died and that the obliterations appearing on the first side or page were made before the will came into his possession, and that he does not believe the will to have been in anyone else’s possession since his father’s death. Dated 3rd April 1807.

Henry Taylorson wrote in his note that the whole of the goods, chattels and credits of the said deceased (John Preston senior) did not amount in value to the sum of £2000. The note includes the statement that the value of the estate was Sworn under £2000 to the Exchequer – dated 7th April 1807.

Thus the will of John Preston Senior had not been acted upon, even 37 years after his death and that of his wife. Several other bequests should have been made which the Probate records suggest had never been paid.

Probate was granted only on 7th April 1807 and apart from John Preston Jnr being named as legatee, 3 other unnamed legatees are mentioned as being entitled to £10 each. These 3 legatees must have been Mary Sollitt and her husband Joshua Sollitt and Jane Preston – as specified in the will.

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