View Full Version : A puzzling will, 1841 Norfolk

09-03-13, 15:31
I've had a copy of the will of Maria Meachen for some time, and it puzzles me. She made it in 1832 and it was proved in 1841.

Here are the first few lines:

This is the last Will and Testament or Testamentary Appointment of me Maria the wife of Edward Meachen of East Dereham in the County of Norfolk Gentleman

Whereas by Indentures of lease and release bearing date respectively the sixth and seventh days of August now last past the release being made between the said Edward Meachen of the first part one the said Maria Meachen (by my then name and addition of Maria Hipkins of East Dereham aforesaid spinster) of the second part and John Reeve of East Dereham aforesaid Merchant and Joseph Abram of East Dereham aforesaid Chemist and Druggist the third part after reciting therein (amongst other things) that a marriage had been agreed upon and was intended shortly to be had and solemnised between me and the said Edward Meachen for the considerations therein expressed....

It then runs and runs - you can see the whole thing here: http://www.norfolksources.norfolk.gov.uk/DserveNS/ - search for 'Maria Meachen' using the probate option.

My puzzlement(s):

1) She refers to herself throughout as Maria Meachen, but the beginning makes it clear that the marriage hasn't happened yet (will dated 29 Nov 1832).

2) I've seen a scan of the original marriage (by license) PR between Edward Meachen and Maria Hipkins on 5 Sep 1832 - how can these two dates be explained together?

3) What is the 'lease and release' she refers to?

Thanks for the taking the time to read this!

Night Owl
09-03-13, 17:46
Crikey - you need legal training (which I don't have) to follow that will!! This might tell you more about indentures of lease and release but it seems to be how property was sold.


I thought this bit was quite funny and would certainly ring true with this will which seems to be 8 pages long

Lawyers in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries were paid by the line. Therefore the longer and wordier a deed was, the more they got paid!

My thoughts are -

1. August 1832 - Maria the spinster sells or transfers some property in anticipation of her marriage. This could have been a sort of prenup agreement because married woman usually didn't make wills then (pre 1882). As soon as they got married, everything she owned became the property of her husband. If she did make a will her husband would have had to agree to it

2. 5th September 1832 - they get married

3. 29th November 1832 she makes the will but a lot of it talks about the history of her property ownership and sale.

Val wish Id never started
09-03-13, 19:58
I would have said a pre nupt too .

Olde Crone Holden
10-03-13, 00:25
You can make a Will specifically for the forthcoming event of your marriage. If the marriage doesn't then take place for whatever reason, the Will is invalid.


Mary from Italy
10-03-13, 02:11
1) She refers to herself throughout as Maria Meachen, but the beginning makes it clear that the marriage hasn't happened yet (will dated 29 Nov 1832).

She doesn't, though. She says she was a party to the lease and release in her former (maiden) name.

10-03-13, 11:09
SO I was reading it wrongly - that makes more sense!
Thanks to Jackie for the helpful summary of events...and to Val, OC & Mary too!