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Retrieval Number: 8317/3/3
Edward Anderson last will and testament, February 26, 1885.
Mount Allison University Archives, Albert Anderson family fonds.
May be reproduced only with permission of Mount Allison University Archives.

This file contains two differing versions of Anderson’s will, one dated February 26th 1885 and the other dated in November 7, 1885. While the first will is signed by two witnesses, Amos Ogden and Caleb Finney, the latter copy was not signed though it contains a statement that it was signed and witnessed by Anderson’s two eldest sons who were named as executors. In all probability the latter is a “copy.” Both wills take great pains to delineate the disposition of Anderson’s considerable estate, which consisted of several parcels of marsh and what seemed to be a sizeable amount of liquid assets that might be distributed as cash to heirs. Nevertheless, Anderson instructed that real estate be sold by his executor in order to provide cash if needed, or in other instances recipients of real estate were obliged to make cash settlements to other heirs as part of their inheritance. The greatest difference between the two versions of the will was the provisions specified for Anderson’s widow. In the first will she was to receive an annual stipend of $50 per year for the remainder of her life. Though it is not stated, we might expect that the widow would be permitted to stay on in the family dwelling, though perhaps sharing this house with one of the heirs. It is difficult to know what precipitated the change of approach, but in the November will the widow is provided with an annual stipend of $200, to be supplied in varied proportional parts by three of Anderson’s sons, Albert, Bliss and Lee. In addition a sum of $2,000 is be made available for the purchase of a house for her use, thus ensuring that she could live independently of other heirs. The remainder of the will specifies the legacies awarded to each of Anderson’s children, including the marsh properties each was to receive.

It is clear that the prevailing custom of “partible inheritance” in which each heir, whether male or female, received a relatively equal share of the inheritance meant that properties that might have been painstakingly assembled by a previous generation were likely to be dispersed again when a generational change took place. In this case it is evident that Anderson was careful to ensure that the individual parcels of marsh that formed the complex and fragmented web of Anderson’s farm were not themselves further fragmented. Rather they were transferred as a bloc to heirs thereby making possible their re-assembly into workable farm units. It is worth noting that Anderson names nine children as his heirs; four of whom were daughters, two were minors, and one daughter apparently resided in Bermuda. In cases such as this it seems likely that male heirs might recover these marsh properties from their sisters by purchasing them using sums received in the settlement of the estate or by mortgaging the parcels they received as the methods of generating cash to complete such a purchase from a sister. In this way the degree of land dispersal was probably not as extreme as it might seem at first reading.

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