Page images

struments, and the duties on fire insurances, and on legacies and successions to personal estate, upon intestacies, now payable in Great Britain; and for granting other duties in lieu thereof.

An act for repealing the Stampoffice duties on advertisements, almanacks, newspapers, gold and silver plate, stage coaches, and licences forkeeping stage coaches, now payable in Great Britain; and for granting new duties in lieu thereof.

An act for granting .in additional sum of money for providing a suitable residence and estate for Ike Duke of Wellington and his heirs, in consideration of the eminent and signal services performed by the said duke to his Majesty and the public.

An act for granting to his Majesty certain sums out of the respective Consolidated Funds of Great Britain and Ireland, and for applying certain monies therein mentioned for the service of the year 1S15; and for further appropriating the supplies granted in this session of Parliament.

An act for enabling his Majesty to grant to John Francis Erskine of Mar, Esq. and his heirs and assigns, the feu duties and quit rents arising in the lordship of Stirling, in discharge of a debt of greater value created upon the said feu duties by a grant from his Majesty King George the 1st.

An act for allowing Henry Meux, Thomas Starling Benson, Florance Thomas Young, Richard Latham, and John Newberry, to brew, duty free, a quantity of strong beer, the duty on which

shall be equivalent to the duty o0 the beer lost; and to the duties on the malt and hops expended in the production of the beer so lost.

An act to amend an act made in the 48th year of his present Majesty, to improve the land revenue of the Crown, so far as relates to the Great Forest of Brecknock, in the county of Brecknock j and for vesting in his Majesty certain parts of the said forest, and for enclosing the said forest.

An act to authorize the appointment of commissioners for erecting an harbour for ships to the eastward of Dunleary, within the port and harbour of Dublin.

An act to remove certain difficulties in the disposition of copyhold estates by will.

An act to enable his Majesty, until six weeks after the commencement of the next session of Parliament, to regulate the trade and commerce carried on between his Majesty's subjects and the inhabitants of the United States of America.

An act for better regulating the practice of apothecaries throughout England and Wales.

An act for exonerating the estates and effects of the late Sir James Colebrooke, the late Sir George Colebrooke, Arnold Nesbitt. Sir Samuel Fludycr, Adam Drummond, and Moses Franks, and of their sureties, from all claims and demands whatsoever in respect of any contracts entered into with his Majesty's Government.

An act for enabling his Majesty to raise the sum of six millions for the service of Great Britain.




Prerogative Court, Doctors' Commons.Price and Kent v. Jf'orthington.—This was a proceeding relative to the validity of the will of the Rev. HughWorthiugton, late of Northamptonsquare, Clerkenwell, Middlesex, deceased, propounded on the part of Eliza Price and Win. Kent, Esq. the executors, and opposed by John Worthington, Esq. the deceased's brother, and only next relative.

It appeared, that the deceased was a man of an advanced age, and a widower, without any relations but his brother and his family. He was minister of a sect of Protestant dissenters, and esteemed a man of great piety. He had from a very early period of life been acquainted with the Rev. Kees Price, also a dissenting minister, and was much attached to him and his family, usually calling him brother, and his children culling the deceased uncle, »jul not knowing until late as they grew up that no such relationship subsisted. Upon tiic death of his wife iu 1806, the deceased (with their father's permission) received Miss Eliza and Miss Hannah Price into his house. They superintended his domestic arrangements, and the former presided at his table, and pos

sessed a very considerable portion of his regard. For about two years prior to his death, he was in a very declining state of health, and on the 16th of June, 1813, appeared to have made his will, but which, notwithstanding due search was made at his death, could not be found. He was much in the habit of writing in short hand, and amongst some letters from Miss Eliza Price to him was found a paper in short hand, which on translation or extension proved to be the following effect:—" Northampton-square, June 16,1813.—I, Hugh Worthington, give and bequeath to my dear Eliza Price, who is my adopted child, all I do or may possess real and personal, to be at her sole and entire disposal. And I do appoint William Kant, Esq. of London-wall, my respected friend, with the said Eliza Price, to execute this my last will and testament." Signed in the usual mode of handwriting, "Hugh Worthington." At the end " Copy of my Will;" and on the back of the paper this endorsement in short hand, "Most dearly beloved, my Eliza, very small as this paper is, it contains a copy of my last will. I have put ft with your letters, that it may be sure to fall into your hands, should accident or any other cause destroy the original. I have taken pains to write this very clear, that you may read it easily. I do know that you will perfect yourself in fhort hand for my sake. Tomorrow we go for Worthing, most likely never to return. 1 hope to write a few lines, to express the best wishes, prayers,

and hopes of thy true H. W."

A day or two after the making of this will, the deceased went to Worthing by the advice of his physicians, to try the effect of the sea air, accompanied by Miss Price and her sister, who paid him the most unremitting attention, for which he repeatedly expressed his warmest acknowledgment, and alluded to his having given the former every thing he possessed by his will. His health became worse, and in the morning of the 26th of July, he got up, and knocked at the Misses Prices' door, requesting them to get up, as he had been seized with a spitting of blood, from which he had formerly suffered much. They did so, and on going into his room, found him much exhausted. He took them by the hand, and addressing himself to Eliza, said, "Every thing, all, all is your's," shortly after which he expired. In confirmation of the effect of his will, some extracts were exhibited from a diary in short hand, which he was in the habit of making of the occurrences in his family, with his observations on them. The date of these extracts appeared to be about the time of the will being made. They were to this effect:—" Monday.—Am very ill this day with my breath: hope I do my best to serve my Lord and Maker, and all will be

well." "Tuesday.—Blessed be God, much better this day. The comfort of my heart going to see her father: 1 dread her leaving me." "Wednesday.—Have this day made my will for the last time, and given all 1 have to my beloved Eliza Price, the sole possessor of my heart, and prop of my declining years. I wish I had more to give her; but all b her's, to do with as seemeth her good; and she is my adopted child, and sweet soother of my solitary hours. God give her every blessing when I may be gone. Mr. Kent is with her executor." Friday.—The dear girl I love is gone to see her beloved father this day : I cannot forget her kindness in not going yesterday. 1 love her more and more.To-morrow she comes back with her sister Mary. Heaven watch over her. The joy of my heart is come back well. Thank God for it. Much dread the sea-side, but God's will be done. Will give a copy of my win to Eliza, to keep or lay it by for her."

The evidence in opposition to the will consisted principally of letters from the deceased to his brother and family, part of them in short hand, explanatory of his intentions in the disposition of his property, which he gave them to understand would ultimately revert to them, Miss Price having only a provision for life. The principal communication was dated the 10th of March preceding his death, was entitled " A general Statement by H. W." and was to the following effect:—" The following brief statement of my domestic arrangements cannot in itself be very essential to my

» dew

dear and. worthy brother, he being my senior three years, but it may be of essential service to his four worthy descendants, preventing, on the one hand, wrong expectations, and on the other jealousy and reserve. Two years after the death of my beloved and excellent partner, my acquaintance increased with Miss £. Price, whom I had known from her birth, and whose father had been for 30 years the most intimate friend 1 ever had in the world. Nothing but a vow solemnly made when 1 was young, grounded on the many miseries I had seen in second marriages, prevented my making this young lady my wife, notwithstanding disparity of age. She hat! been a teacher in an eminent boardingschool, till a pain in her side and debility of nerves rendered it impossible to maintain any public situation. She then became governess at my friend Mr. Kent's, who well knowing her excellent and cultivated understanding, and her superior abilities in needlework, French, painting, &c. was exceeding loth to part with her, and would at this moment rejoice in her return, but her melancholy overthrow in the Worthing stage (which had like to have been fatal at the moment) has totally disqualified her for the exertion of even private tuition. In these affecting circumstances the high union of regard, esteem, and honour left me but one alternative: I have adopted her as a relation, placed her at the head of my house, when 1 could not have a relation of my own, my nieces being married, and can now look to the declining years of

life with singular satisfaction, possessing in her the constant society of an intelligent companion and the tender assiduity of an affectionate daughter. But while she devotes to my comfort her shattered health and strength (made worse, not better, by the taunts and misrepresentations of an ill-natured world), it is my first duty to provide for her decent independence when I am no more, and this I have done without any injustice to those who would not possibly have any claim upon what little 1 possess; who would have had but a part, had I inserted in my will some public charities, which for a long time was my intention; who, in case of a second marriage, and a rising family, could never have received any share of my property, but who now will obtain a portion of it, and eventually be heirs to the remainder at the decease of my amiable Eliza. These are the principles upon which 1 act— principles urged by conscience, and, I trust, supported by religion; nor will any thing alter the balance I have laid down, except (what I cannot suppose) disrespect, personal or oblique, from those who hitherto have always treated me with the most generous attention. I commend all my relations, and all their growing families, to the blessing of God for time and eternity." The passages in the other letters of asubsequent date, which seemed to bear most upon the question at issue, were the deceased's "thanking his family for their attention to him upon all occasions, but more particularly in answer to his communica

tion on a particular subject," alluding apparently to the "brief statement" of March 10;—his stating that when his nephew wspte to him next "he would (though he sat up beyond midnight) express at some length his sincere and warm gratitude for his most affectionate and obliging letter of April last, and touch on points to which there was then no time to advert;"—and his stating in a letter of 13th of March, 1813, "Next week I shall send you a brief statement of my domestic arrangements, and plans which I have not time to transcribe this afternoon. It will be in long hand, for on such a subject I wish for no reserve." The rest of the letters contained the strongest and most affectionate expressions of regard for his brother and family, and pious wishes fortheir prosperity. It also appeared that the deceased's will never was in the possession of any other person than hhuself; that Miss Price was the only person who had access to his papers; and that a book, containing instructions for making wills, was found open on the writing table in his study, where it had been lying from the 16th of June, until after his death.

It was contended, in opposition to the will, that from its never having been traced out of the deceased's possession; the legal presumption was, that he had destroyed it animo raxtcandi; that it was, therefore, incumbent upon the parties setting up the copy of k in question, to repel this presumption by evidence, that the deceased meant the copy to operate, but that the circumstances

of the case did not establish thai fact sufficiently to conflict with the legal presumption of its revocation.

Sir John Nicholl recapitulated the leading circumstances of the case, and the terms of the paper propounded, and coincided with the counsel for the next of kin, that it was for the parties setting up the paper to repel by evidence the legal presumption of its revocation. The species of evidence for this purpose need not be positive, as, for instance; if it had been subsequently destroyed by an act of fraudulent spoliation, it would lie almost impossible that they could prove the direct affirmative of that fact. A case of circumstances was all that was required; but then they should be such as to leave no doubt on the moral conviction of the Court, that the deceased meant this paper to operate. Now the evideucc out of which these circumstances were to arise, must necessarily be the conduct of the deceased, his declarations of the affection, testamentary intentions, &c. If, for instance, it should appear tliat he had made the will under any sudden impulse of affection, which afterwards abated, the presumption of his having destroyed it animo rtvocaudi would be strengthened rather than repelled; but if he made it from motives which had actuated him for years, and seemed to cease but with life, and that he took precautions for giving effect to his purpose, then the presumption would rather be that he had placed it somewhere where it still was in existence, than that he had destroyed it. Guhled by these principles, he


« PreviousContinue »