A will scribbled on the back of an envelope

I’ve looked at a lot of wills in the National Archives of Scotland (previously Scottish Record Office), both for family, and for university and work reasons. However for many I just kept handwritten notes and didn’t arrange photocopies. Getting copies becomes easier and cheaper with the ongoing digitisation project in collaboration with ScotlandsPeople.

ScotlandsPeople have just put images for wills and inventories for 1902 to 1925 online, and I’ve just downloaded the pages for my gg-grandfather Thomas Cavers Hall (1850-1917) farmer of Gattonside Mains near Melrose. This was one of the first wills I looked at in the archive in Edinburgh, and it was one of the most characterful. The record reveals that he wrote his will on his 66th birthday, on the back of an envelope.

Most of the estate was left to his second son Peter Fair Hall. Thomas wrote that regarding the other children “I have given them all money and kind from time to time” but he added ten pounds each to Hugh, Mary and Maggie, but nothing to Alexander who emigrated to Western Australia “and requires nothing, he got his when he left”. His other son, Thomas, was assigned to Peter’s care. The other person mentioned in the will was Thomas Cavers Hall’s sister Janet Hall (born Elizabeth Janet Hall (1861-1935)), who was acting as his housekeeper, and was to receive ten pounds as well.

We learned years later from cousins that the will caused a family split, since the eldest son Hugh (1872-1946) was effectively disinherited. But he didn’t follow the family tradition of running the farm, and made his own way in life, working as a motor salesman, and eventually dying in Wishaw.

About vivdunstan

Academic historian, genealogist, former computer scientist, and Doctor Who fan.
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2 Responses to A will scribbled on the back of an envelope

  1. Anne Henderson Garner says:

    I notice that you have Wishaw and Henderson in your records. I’m looking for Hendersons of Wishaw. My great grandparents were Samuel and Martha Henderson of Wishaw. My grandfather was James Henderson who moved to Edinburgh and he had a sister named Zena. Does this sound familiar?

    • vivdunstan says:

      No it doesn’t sound connected at all. The only connection I have with Wishaw is this g..uncle Hugh Hall who died there. My Henderson relatives are totally unrelated to this line, and have no link to Wishaw at all. I doubt there is any link with your family. Good luck with your family research.

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