One Man’s Will in 1732

Although not a resident of Britain, one man’s will was published not only in America but also in British newspapers. The man was a Mr. Matthew A—-y and he reputedly died from causes related to “advanced Age.” For many years he worked as a bed-maker and sweeper at the local college in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As he and his wife had no children, when he died, he left his entire estate to his wife, bequeathing it to her in his “Last Will and Testament.” It follows verbatim: To my dear Wife, My Joy and Life, I freely now do give her My whole Estate, With all my Plate, Being just about to leave her.

A Tub of Soap, a long Cart Rope, A Frying-pan and Kettle, An Ashes Pail, A threshing Flail, An iron Wedge and Beetle.

Two painted Chairs, Nine warden Pears, A large old dripping-platter, The Bed of Hay, On which I lay, An old Sauce pan for Butter.

A little Mugg, A Two quart Jugg, A Bottle full of Brandy: A Looking-Glass To See your Face, You’ll find it very handy.

A Musket true As ever flew, A Pound of Shot & Wallet, A Leather Sash, My Calabash, My Powder-horn & Bullets.

An old Sword blade, A Garden spade, A Hoe, a Rake, a Ladder, A wooden Cann, A close-stool Pan, A Clyster-pipe and Bladder.

A greasy Hat, My old Ram-Cat, a Yard and half of Linnen, A por of Grease, A woollen Fleece, In order for your Spinning.

A small-tooth Comb, An ashen Broom, A Candlestick and Hatchet, A Coverlid Strip’d down with Red, A Bag of Rags to patch it.

A ragged mat, A Tub of Fat; A Book put out by Bunyan, Another Book By Robin Rook; A Skain or two of Spunyarn.

An old black Muff, Some Garden Stuff, A Quantity of Burrage, Some Devils Weed And Burdock Seed, To season well your Porridge.

A Chafing-Dish, With one Salt Fish, If I am not mistaken, a Leg of Pork, A broken Pork, And half a Flitch of Bacon.

A Spinning Wheel, One Peck of Meal, A Knife without a Handle, A rusty Lamp, Two Quarts of Samp, A piece of Tallow-Candle.

My Pouch and Pipes, Two Oxen Tripes, An oaken Dish well carved, My little Dog, and spotted Hog, With two young Pigs just starved.

This is my Stove, I have no more, I heartily do give it, My Years are spun, My Days are done, And so I think to leave it.


Example of handwritten will in 1616. This was William Shakespeare’s will. Courtesy of Wikipedia.


  • “Cambridge, in New England, January 15,” in The Pennsylvania Gazette, 15 February, 1731-2
  • “Cambridge in New-England, Dec. 30,” in Derby Mercury, 18 May 1732

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