Where there’s a Will, There’s a Way

Will of John Ball, Tailor of South Molton, Devon, 1853

Will of John Ball, Tailor of South Molton, Devon, 1853

If you are like me, you are eager to draw out as many genealogical clues from the family history documents that you have gathered. I’ve always been fascinated by wills – the objects the deceased left for others, the reasons why, and more importantly, who is not named in the will. My 3x-great-grandfather,  John Ball, a tailor from South Molton, Devon, England, died in 1855 and left his property and earthly belongings to his wife and children. Curiously, he named his second eldest and unmarried daughter, Elizabeth, as his executrix, bypassing his eldest and married daughter and older unmarried son.  He also left a small inheritance to his grandchildren, the son and daughter of Elizabeth.   While I’m still untangling the details of this family dynamic, I’ve always wondered about how the courts processed estates and what further information I can glean from the will – that is if I can decipher the handwriting! I hadn’t known about Elizabeth’s children until I saw them in the will.

Jane MacNamara, blogger of Where the Journey Takes Me and author of Inheritance in Ontario: Wills and Other Record for Family Historians, will be giving a talk on the topic of Ontario Wills and Estate Files at the upcoming KPL Genealogy Fair. She’ll help you navigate the family connections and relationships in wills and estate files and how to locate these documents in local archives and courts in Ontario.

Speaking of the Genealogy Fair, there is a Facebook event page now online.