The Will of Josiah Peirce of Worcester, Massachusetts
Josiah Peirce died 30 Oct 1806 in Worcester, Worcester, Massachusetts. His wife, Sarah Gale, is mentioned in the will. However, she died before him in 1802.
Josiah was the oldest of the seven children of Isaac Peirce and Susannah Bemis of Watertown, where he was born 13 Feb 1723. He later settled in Worcester where he died on 30 Oct 1806.
Josiah and Sarah had sixteen children of whom fifteen were alive when he wrote his will:
sons John, Oliver, Josiah, Joseph, Levi, Byfield, Abijah, Joel and Jarvis
and daughters: Susannah Chenery, Sarah Stevens, Mary Haywood, Lydia Glazier, Azubah Morse and Hannah Ball.
Sons John and Josiah died before their father, John in 1803 and Josiah in 1804, according to my records. Azuba is mentioned in her father’s will as Azuba Morse but she married Luther Fiske in 1804 so her first husband must have died sometime between 1793 and 1804.
Sons John and Oliver Peirce were named executors of the estate, but this duty fell to Oliver since John was dead by that time.
Probate was on 6 January 1807. Benjamin Heywood, Paul Goodell and Luther Rice were appointed to appraise Josiah Peirce’s real estate on 7 May 1808 by Nathaniel Paine, Judge of Probate, Worcester, Massachusetts. An inventory of his other possession was taken on 12 Feb 1807 by Benjamin Heywood, Daniel Goulding and Paul Goodale.
Only the sons were left land, except for Abijah who had already been given his share of the estate, probably in land because in the appraisal and division of the real estate much of the land adjoins his land. The appraisal and division of the real estate was complicated and went on for several pages. There was quite a bit of land and it totaled up to $1475.00 minus $27 which went to Levi through a roundabout transfer of land. The remainder, $1448 was divided eight ways, $181 each. Oliver received land but had to pay all the other $181; Levi also got land appraised at $543 and he had to pay to Jarvis and John $181 each. Byfield received land appraised at $181, over 15 acres. More land was set off for Joel Peirce and Joseph Peirce. The boundaries of the land were noted in all of this (the pile of rocks to the walnut tree to the cider mill, etc.) and the parcels of land were all adjacent to or nearby each other. Jarvis, our ancestor, received his share, $181. It is not known were he was living at this time but he was in Craftsbury by at least 1810. By 1818-1820 he was in Illinois where he bought land of his own.
The daughters did not receive any land but they received household items instead. These items included a feather bed bolster, old sheets, blankets, a looking glass, etc. Two of the daughters received cash instead. The inventory of the estate, including the amount of real estate and buildings on the property ($1785) came to $1889.18.
The estate was finally settled by an accounting made by Oliver during the February term of the probate court in Worcester.
In the Name of God, Amen
I Josiah Peirce of Worcester in the County of Worcester &
Commonwealth of Massachusetts Gentleman, being of
sound mind and memory but advanced in years and considering that
it is appointed for all men to die, do this twenty fifth Day of November one
thousand seven hundred and ninety three, make and ordain this my last
will and Testament – that is to say – Principally and first of all I humbly
recommend my Soul into the hands of Almighty God and my body to the
Earth – And as Touching such worldly Estate wherewith it hath pleased
God to Bless me – I give, Devise and dispose of the same in the following
manner and form, Viz ~
Imprimis I give and bequeath to my beloved wife Sarah Peirce the
use and improvement of all the real estate of which I shall die
seized and possessed during her Natural Life, subject however to the provision
herein after mentioned for the payment of my just Debts and funeral charges
(if need be). I also give her the use and improvement of my four wheel carriage
and all my indoor moveables (my wearing apparel only excepted) during
her natural life.~~
Item I give and devise to eight of my Sons namely, John, Oliver, Josiah,
Joseph, Levi, Byfield, Joel and Jarvis, and to their several heirs
forever, to take effect after the decease of my said wife and not before ~
all my real Estate aforesaid to be equally divided between them, regard to be
had as well to the Quality as Quantity of the same in the division thereof.
Item I give and bequeath to my Son Abijah the sum of Ten shillings which
with what I have heretofore given him is his full proportion
Item I give and bequeath to my Daughters Sarah Stevens and Lydia Glasier
respectively the sum of Four pounds each to be paid them after the
decease of my wife out of my indoor moveables.
Item I give and bequeath to my Daughters Sarah Stevens and Lydia
Glasier, and to my other Daughters, vis, Susannah Chenery, Mary Hay-
wood, Azubah Morse & Hannah Ball after the decease of my said wife-
all the residue of my indoor moveables, after the payment of the two legacies
aforesaid of four pounds each (my wearing apparel excepted) to be equally
divided between them
Item I give and bequeath to eight of my Sons namely John, Oliver, Josiah, Joseph, Levi, Byfield, Joel and Jarvis – all my wearing apparel, to be equally
divided between them
Item It is my will and I order that all my Just Debts and funeral charges be paid
out of such Debts as may be due to me at the time of my Decease and
in case these should not be sufficient for those purposes the residue is to be
paid out of my Real Estate
Item It is my will and I order that if any of my children aforesaid should die
before they come into possession of the several divises and bequests herein made
their legal representatives respectively shall be intitled to have and to hold the same
in the manner as though they had died after lawfull possession thereof
Lastly I constitute and appoint my said Sons John & Oliver Peirce Executors of this my
last Will and Testament – And I hereby revoke and disannul all former wills
Legacies bequests and Executors by before willed, bequeathed and named
confirming this and no other to be my last will and Testament
In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and Seal the day & year
Signed, Sealed, published, pronounced and declared by the said Josiah Peirce
as his last will and Testament in the presence of us the subscribers
Josiah Peirce (seal)
Will of Josiah Peirce, 1723-1806, image of original will
The Pierce/Peirce family
Jarvis Peirce Sr., 1771-1831
Source of Josiah Peirce's will: FHL MF 856319, Worcester county, Massachusetts, probate records, vol. 35, 1806-1807, pp.299-301. Many thanks to Sally V. Houston, descendant, for transcribing the will.