Gems from the Archives –14 “Mary Pratt her will”

The image today is a composite of Mary Pratt’s  willThis is the transcription:

Saint Christopher’s

In the Name of God Amen I Mary Pratt of the Island of Saint Christopher widow, being in good Health and of sound Mind Memory and Understanding, but considering the uncertainty of this life, do make publish and declare this my Last Will and Testament in manner and form following (that is to say)

First I will and direct that all my just debts and funeral expences be fully paid and satisfied without law suit or trouble, as soon as convenient after my decease.

Item I do direct that my Executors hereinafter named shall cause William Tittle to be Educated and Maintained out of my Estate until he arrives at the age of Fifteen Years, and at his arrival at such age, it is my will that they then send him to his Friends in Africa.

Item I do earnestly request that my Daughter Eleanor do permit Ann Brown spinster to continue to live with her, so long as she the said Ann Browne shall live, and to treat her in the same manner as I now do.

Item I give and bequeath to the said Ann Browne the sum of Ten pounds current money, to be paid her by my said Executors as soon as convenient after my Decease.

Item I give and bequeath unto my Daughter Margaret Tittle of Liverpoole in the Kingdom of Great Britain spinster the sum of Five shillings of Sterling and lawful money of said Kingdom.

Item All the rest, residue, and remainder, of all my Estate, both real, and personal, whatsoever, and wheresoever, which I am now Seized, Possessed, or Intitled unto, or which I may hereafter acquire, I Give Devise and Bequeath unto my said Daughter Eleanor, her Heirs Executors Administrators and Assigns forever;

And Lastly I do nominate constitute and appoint my said Daughter Eleanor, George Skerrett of the said Island gentleman, and William Burroughs the Younger, Attorney at Law, Executrix and Executors of this my Will, and I do hereby revoke all other Will or Wills by me heretofore made and do declare this only to be my true Last Will and Testament


In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this Eighth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy eight

          MARY [her X mark] PRATT

Signed, Sealed, Published, and Declared by the Testatrix as and for her last Will and Testament in the presence of us, who in her presence, at her request, and in the presence of each other have subscribed our names as witnesses thereto, the words “Executors hereinafter Named” being first wrote on a razure [sic] as also the word “Liverpoole”       [signed] BEN: JOHNSON BURROUGHS

          [signed] GILES M. BURROUGHS

          [signed] JAMES GRIFFIN JUN.R

Saint Christopher.   Before the Honorable Anthony Johnson Esquire President of his Majestys Council of the said Island and deputed ordinary of the same

Personally appeared Benjamin Johnson Burroughs of the said Island Attorney at Law who made oath on the Holy Evangelists of Almighty God, that he was present and did see the within named Mary Pratt sign (by her mark) seal publish and declare the within written Instrument of Writing as and for her last Will and Testament, and that the said Mary Pratt at the time of her so doing was, to the best of Deponents knowledge and belief, of sound and disposing Mind Memory and Understanding, and that he this Deponent together with Giles Mardenbrough Burroughs of the said Island merchant, and James Griffin Junior since deceased did set and subscribe their names as witnesses thereto in the presence of the said Mary Pratt and in the presence of each other

          [signed] BEN: J. BURROUGHS

Sworn this 3d day of May 1784 before me  [signed] ANT: JOHNSON

Entered in the Registers Office on Thursday the Sixth day of May 1784 about ten o’clock in the forenoon /Examd/         [signed] JOHN GARNETT, Regr.

 (transcription by Ruth Case)

This will raises a number of questions.  Firstly who was William Tittle?  We know he was under 15 years old in 1778 and had friends in Africa.  Presumably this meant that he was a little boy when he was brought to St. Kitts and may have talked about the friends he had left behind.  It is not clear how he had become a member of Mary’s household but the indications are that he may have been her slave.  Mary seems to have grown fond of him and may have enjoyed listening to his stories about his friends.  She certainly cared enough to have him educated.  Mary died six years after making this will.  Was William 15 by then and was he ever sent back to Africa?

According to John Pratt’s will (1769) Mary had had 4 children before they got married.  The 2 sons are not mentioned in Mary’s will, which may mean that they had died. Of the daughters, Eleanor was still in St. Kitts but Margaret Tittle was in Liverpool.  What was she doing there as an unmarried woman? Did all of Mary’s children carry the surname Tittle?  And finally, is this Margaret Tittle the one who was the Grand Mother of the poet Robert Browning?

Questions and more questions….!