Hannah Pursey (née Edmonds) (1729 – 1819) of Taunton St Mary died at Eastreach, Taunton aged 90.
She takes the biscuit for leaving the longest will of any Pursey. She was a sticker for detail and a lengthy preamble to her will lays out her wishes in great detail. The daughter of Shadrack Edmonds, she was a non-conformist with a strong sense of justice and equality. Her daughters benefitted from her will equally, if not more so, than her surviving sons John and Joseph.
In fact, the first-mentioned, Rachael, was not even one of her own sons or daughters: “First I give and bequeath unto Rachael Pursey, the widow of my late son Samuel Pursey the sum of ten pounds.”
She divides her estate, comprising property and land in [I believe] Orchard Portman into three parts. A third she gives to daughter Elizabeth, wife of William Phippen; a third goes to Lydia, wife of James Taylor “for her own sole and separate use and benefit separate and apart from her present or any future husband and wherewith he shall not intermeddle”. The remaining third, she divides in sixths. Of that, sons John and Joseph each receive a share, as do daughters Sarah, wife of Stephen Stock (Currier in the City of Worcester), and Ann, wife of John Horsey (Currier in London).
The remaining two sixths, she instructs her executors to invest “in the purchase of parliamentary stocks or funds of Great Britain or upon seal or personal security at Interest”. She directs that half the returns from these investments go towards the “towards the maintenance and bringing up of my four Grandchildren James, Shadrack, Mary, and Ann Pursey, Children of my late son Shadrack Pursey by Mary his late wife in equal proportions until they shall respectively attain the age of twenty one years”. The other half is to be used “for and towards the maintenance and bringing up of my five Grandchildren Edward, Samuel, William, Mary and Sarah Cornish, Children of my late Daughter Hannah Cornish by Samuel her Husband”.
Once all the grand-children reach 21, she instructs her executors to liquidate the respective investments and share it out “equally” between them all “for their own respective absolute use and benefit”. She adds that if any of the grand-children have died at the time of the administration of the will then “the share or shares of him her or them so dying shall go and accrue to his her or their brothers or sisters before named and to none other in equal shares and proportions”.
She also makes clear that if any of her sons or daughters “shall happen to die in my life time then I do hereby order and direct my said Trustees and the Survivor of them his Heirs Executors or Administrators to pay the share or shares of him or her or them so dying unto his her or their personal representative or personal representatives”.
Finally, to try and ensure her grand-children have the best possible start in life, she says “I do hereby declare and direct that it shall and may be lawful to and for [her executors] to pay andy part of the shares of my said Grandchildren for the putting or placing them him or her to or in any trade business or employment or otherwise for their his or her advancement in the World.”