The following is a transcript of the will of St. Ledger Cowley (my 4th ggf St. Ledger (or St. Leger)Cowley) and related legal papers. (St. Ledger was the earliest known Cowley in our line and came to America from Ireland in 1769). This was the first will filed in Delaware County, New York and was written in 1796. --Dick Cowley, June 1, 2001
The transcript was first made from a handwritten copy of the will and associated legal papers made about 1797. Later a copy of the original will was obtained and I verified that the transcript agreed with it. The letters "L. S." appear in several places on the will copy and in the following transcript. This is an abbreviation for the Latin expression "locus sigilli" which means "place of the seal." Anthony Marvine, the surrogate ("in some states, a judicial officer who has jurisdiction over the probate of wills, the settlement of estates, etc.") who handled the will and made the copy, placed the Delaware County seal at these locations on the original copy of the will and associated papers.
It is not clear what is meant by the "intertined" signatures mentioned at the end of the will. The signatures of the three witnesses are written normally and appear only at the end of the will. They do not appear between lines fourteen and fifteen on page one of the original will.
The will and the will copy were written with no paragraphs or indentation. This makes it unnecessarily difficult to read for us in the twentieth century and so I have added some paragraphing. The will separates its provisions by the word "Item." "Item" in Latin means "also" and was used for separating entries in lists. I have inserted new paragraphs wherever the word "Item" appears.
Each handwritten line of the copy is ended with dots or a line to make alteration more difficult. These are not present in the will or in this transcription. There are several apparent spelling errors, word omissions, and uncertain words in the will and will copy. The apparent spelling errors have been left unchanged in the transcription because they contribute to the air of antiquity in the will and may not have been considered errors at that time. Best guesses at uncertain words have been inserted.
Many more words are capitalized in the will than we would capitalize. This extensive capitalization was apparently normal for the time and has been retained in the transcription. It was apparently the custom at that time to capitalize most key words (as we still do in titles).
Anthony Marvine was the surrogate who handled the will and made the copy. He is referred to in a Delaware County history.
Richard T. Cowley
October 19, 1992
St. Ledger Cowley's Will
St. Ledger Cowley (L.S.)
In the Name of God Amen I St. Ledger Cowley of Harpersfield in the County of Otsego being weak in body tho of a sound and perfect mind and memory thanks be given to God therefor do make and ordain this my last Will and Testament. That is to say I give and recommend my soul into the Hands of Almighty God that gave it, and my Body I recommend to the Earth to be buried in decent Christian Burial at the Discretion of my Executors nothing Doubting of rising to a Joyous Resurrection.
Item I desire that all my just debts and funeral Charges may be paid immediately after my Decease or as soon as conveniently may be.
Item I give and bequeath unto my well beloved Wife Mary Cowley a certain Lot of Land lying in Harpersfield and known by Lot No. two hundred and seventeen, to occupy and improve so long as she shall remain my Widow for a Homestead for her and my Children that are unmarried and live in Obedience to their Mother excepting so much of said Lot as I shall hereinafter otherwise dispose of. Also I give unto my Beloved Wife Mary one yoke of Oxen to be used on said Farm which is to be occupied and improved kept in good Repair, and to have a good House and Barn erected thereon within two years after my decease the House to be thirty feet square, a Story and a half high and the Barn the same Bigness as Samuel Farris's. Also I give to my said Wife two Cows and ten Sheep. And also my Wagon and Harness. Also my pleasure Sleigh and Wood Sleigh , one Plough, one Chain together with all my other farming utensils, as also all my Household furniture which I now possess. All which premises above described are to be occupied and improved by and for my said Widow so long as she remains my Widow, and to enable her to support and educate my youngest son St. Ledger, And my youngest Daughter Ann, who are by her to be educated as herein after directed, as also I give and bequeath unto my said Widow the Improvement of my Grist Mill and Dwelling House in which I now dwell together (with) the land on which they stand for the term of four years after my decease, at the Expiration of which term said mill House and Lot on which they stand, may (at the Discretion of my Executors) be sold to enable Them to fulfill this my last Will. As also I give unto my said Wife Mary Cowley all my Swine for the Benefit of the family at Home.
Item I give and bequeath onto my Eldest Son Jonathan Cowley the sum of thirty pounds lawfull Money of the State of New York to be paid unto him at the expiration of four years after my decease, As also my Silver Hack Buckle, and my olive Coloured velvet Britches.
Item I give and bequeath unto my second son Samuel Cowley a certain parcel of Land lying in the Town of Frankling being the Southwesterly part of Lot No. Seventy Two in a Tract of Land granted to Sherman Watters and others Containing one hundred and twenty five Acres. As also my Riding Horse Saddle and Bridle. As also thirty pounds lawful Money of the State of New York to be paid to him in four Years after my Decease, as also my Silver Watch.
Item I give and bequeath unto my third son William Cowley my Saw Mill together with the Lot of Land on Which it stands, as also all the property I have in the Timber, as set fourth in a Lease given to me by Daniel Clerk, as also fifty pounds lawful Money of the State of New York to be paid unto him at the Expiration of two years after my Decease, and it is to be understood that I give unto my said son William the fifty pounds abovesaid upon this express Condition namely that he my son William shall furnish good pine Boards, Square Timber, and Shingles, within two years after my decease sufficient to erect a House thirty feet Square, and one and an (sic) half Story High, and a Barn the same Bigness of Samuel Farrises Barn, said Materials all to be delivered on Lot No. two hundred and seventeen, and without any further fee or reward, and which is to be done under the Directions of my Executors.
Item I give and bequeath unto my fourth Son St. Ledger Cowley fifty acres of Land off from the northwesterly End of Lot No. two hundred and seventeen in Harpersfield to be let or leased out at the Discretion of my Executors for the Benefit of my Son St. Ledger Cowley untill he shall arrive at twenty one years of Age, as also a Yoke of Oxen one plow, One chain and a Set of Harrow Teeth, one Ax, one Hoe when he arrives at twenty one years of age, as also my Silver Shoe Buckles, as also to be put to School and instructed in English Learning till he is qualified for Bookkeeping and other necessary Business, at the Expense of Mary Cowley my Wife and his mother.
Item I give and bequeath unto my Eldest Daughter Mary Cowley all and singular the High Title Interest and Claim I have in and to a certain Lot or parcel of Land lying in Renselarwick containing fifty Acres of Land together with all the Buildings thereon to come into her possession in two years after my decease.
Item I give and bequeath unto my second Daughter Martha Cowley one hundred pounds lawful Money of the State of New York to be paid unto her at the Expiration of four Years after my Decease, or at the Discretion of my Executors, as also one red Heifer, now two years old.
Item I give and bequeath unto my third Daughter Elizabeth Cowley, one hundred pounds lawful Money of the State of New York to be paid unto her at the Expiration of four Years after my Decease or at the Discretion of my Executors, as also one black Heifer now two years old.
Item I give and bequeath unto my fourth Daughter Ann Cowley One hundred pounds lawful Money of the State of New York to be paid unto her in Eight Years after my Decease, or at the Discretion of my Executors, as also One Red Heifer Calf to be kept on the farm till fit to be let out at the Discretion of my Executors.
Item I give and bequeath unto Richard Hutchins one Yoke of Oxen of three Years old to be given him in two years after my Decease, provided he shall faithfully serve his time out with his mistress, which shall be at the Discretion of my Executors.
Item I give and bequeath one thousand feet of pine Boards, and ten pounds like lawful Money to be appropriated for the purpose of Assisting in the Completing the presbyterian Meeting House in Harpersfield to be paid at the Discretion of my Executors.
Item I will and desire that all the rest and residue of my Real and personal Estate after the payment of my just Debts, funeral Charges, and bequests as herein willed and bequeathed, shall continue in the possession and occupancy of Mary my Wife so long as she Continues to be my Widow, and when she shall cease to be my Widow either by marriage or Death then to be equally divided between my then surviving Children.
Item I give and bequeath unto my well beloved and trusty friends John Harper, and Joshua H. Brett Esq. and my well beloved son William Cowley the sum of seven pounds apiece for extraordinary Services, whom I also constitute ordain and appoint to be the sole Executors of this my last Will and Testament, hereby revoking all other Wills by me made, and ratifying this and no other to be my last Will and Testament. In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and Seal to the top of this my Will containing two Sheets of paper, and at the Bottom of the other Sheet, this thirtieth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety six.
St. Ledger Cowley (L.S.)
Signed sealed published and declared by the said St. Ledger Cowley as his last Will and Testament in the presents of us who in his presents and in the presents of each other have hereunto set our names intertined before signing and sealing between the fourteenth and fifteenth lines, From the top of the first page of the first sheet. Parmenas Baldwin Samuel Farris Giles Humeston.
I St. Ledger Cowley do make and publish this Codicil to my last Will and testament in manner following (that is to say) I give and bequeath unto my eldest son Jonathan Cowley the Sum of seventy pounds lawful Money of the State of New York, in Addition to the sum of thirty pounds like lawful money, which in and by my last Will and Testament I have given and bequeathed unto him making in the whole one hundred pounds to be paid unto him at the Expiration of four years after my Death, and lastly it is my Desire that this my present Codicil be annexed to and made a part of my last Will and Testament to all intents and purposes. In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my Hand and Seal this twelfth Day of October in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety six.
St. Ledger Cowley (L.S.)
Signed sealed published and declared by the above named St. Ledger Cowley as a Codicil to be annexed to his last Will and Testament in presents of us who in his presents and in the presents of each other have hereunto set our names Parmenas Baldwin Samuel Farris Giles Humeston.
Delaware County Be it remembered that on the second Day of August in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety seven personally appeared before me Anthony Marvine Surrogate of the said County of Delaware Giles Humeston and Samuel Farris of the town of Harpersfield in the said County of Delaware who being duly sworn on the holy Evangelists of Almighty God, on their Oaths declare that they did see St. Ledger Cowley sign and seal the within written Instrument purporting to be the Will of the said St. Ledger Cowley, and heard him publish and declare the same as and for his last Will and Testament, that at the Time thereof he the said St. Ledger Cowley was of sound and disposing Mind and Memory to the best of the knowledge and Belief of them the Deponents And that their names subscribed to the said Will as Witnesses are of their Respective proper Hands Writing, and that they the Deponents saw Parmenas Baldwin the other Witness to the said Will subscribe his name thereto as a Witness in the Testators presence. And be it also remembered that on the same Day and Year aforesaid Joshua H. Brett and William Cowley two of the Executors of the within written Will likewise appeared before me Anthony Marvine Surrogate as aforesaid and were duly sworn to the true performance and Execution of the within Will by taking the usual oath as Executors. And be it also remembered that on the seventh Day of August in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety seven as aforesaid John Harper the other Executor the within written Will likewise appeared before me Anthony Marvine Surrogate as aforesaid and was duly sworn to the true performance and Execution of the within Will by taking the usual oath as an Executor.
(Signed) Anthony Marvine Surrogate
(L.S.)The people of the State of New York by the Grace of God free and Independent to all to whom these presents shall come or may concern send Greeting. Know Ye that at Kortright in the County of Delaware on the Day and Date of these presents before me Anthony Marvine Surrogate of our said County the last Will and Testament of St. Ledger Cowley deceased (a Copy whereof is hereunto annexed) was proved and is now approved and allowed of by us. And the said Deceased whilst living and at the time of his Death having Goods Chattels or Credits within this State by means whereof the proving and registering the said Will and the granting Administration of all and singular the said Goods chattels and Credits and also the Auditing and allowing and final discharging the Account thereof doth belong unto us, the Administration of all and singular the Goods Chattels and Credits of the said deceased and any way concerning his Will is granted unto John Harper Joshua H. Brett and William Cowley the Executors in the said Will named by being first duly sworn well and faithfully to administer the same, and to make and exhibit true and perfect Inventory of all and singular the said Goods Chattels and Credits, and also to render a just and true account thereof when thereunto required. In testimony whereof we have caused the seal of office of our said Surrogate to be hereunto affixed. Witness Anthony Marvine Surrogate of the said County at Kortright the seventh Day of August in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety seven and of our Independence the twenty second.
(Signed) Anth Marvine Sur
The preceding Will of St. Ledger Cowley deceased with the Certificate of the proof thereof and of the Qualification of John Harper Joshua H. Brett and William Cowley as Executors, and Also the Letters Testamentary thereon recorded this Eighth Day of August in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety seven
(Signed) Anth Marvine Surrogate