This week prompt for 52 ancestors is “Maiden Aunt.”
My 7th great-grandfather, John Adams of County Antrim, Ireland, had five daughters. In birth order, they were Mary (my 6th great-grandmother), Elizabeth, Ann, Martha, and Jane. Mary married James Bones, Elizabeth married James Brown, and Jane married William Staveley. Ann and Martha never married and family tradition holds that they were both blind.
Ann was born in 1780 and Martha was born in 1783. They were both born at their father’s home, Chequer Hall, and would live their entire lives there. In their father’s will, dated 1807, he leaves “all the remainder of my effects, ready money, debts, goods and chattels (not hereafter mentioned) to my daughters Ann Adams and Martha Adams, share and share alike.” This included Chequer Hall. The will later states that “the said Ann and Martha Adams pay my wife Elizabeth Adams yearly and every year during her life thirty pounds sterling, in two equal half yearly payments….My wish is that my wife and daughters Ann and Martha should live together.”
John died in 1809 and his wife lived with Ann and Martha until her death in 1824. It’s fortunate that he was able to leave much of his property to them so they could live the rest of their lives independently.
Other relatives lived with them at Chequer Hall over the years, as births of nieces and nephews are listed at the place and other life events seem to have taken place there.
Very little is known about Martha other than her birth and death dates and her blindness. She died in 1860 at Chequer Hall.
We know a little more about Ann since we have her will and a news item announcing her death. She died 28 January 1865 at Chequer Hall. She was the last of the Adams sisters to pass away.
Ann’s will is quite interesting (the full text is included at the end of this post). The original portion of the will is dated 8 December 1860. A little over two months later, she adds two codicils just two days apart on the 22nd and 24th of February 1861. A third codicil is added 27 February 1864. In the will and codicils she mentions 10 nieces and nephews, 2 clergymen, and 6 others whose relationship is unknown. It seems she was close to her family, attended church, and had several dear friends.
In Ann’s will, she leaves Chequer Hall to her eldest nephew, John Bones who was living in Augusta, Georgia, and failing him, to her niece, and John Bones’ wife, Mary Brown Bones. Since John was living in America, he sold the house to a lawyer named, Hugh McCurdy Hamilton. (Mr. Hamilton was married to two of John Bones’ cousins, Jane Brown and Mary Staveley.) The following year, the home was sold to the Hanna family and has remained in that family to this day.
After her death, William Staveley, a nephew, in Pennsylvania writes to his brother James in Ireland after learning of their aunt’s death:
I was truly sorry a few weeks since on seeing in an Irish paper a notice of the death of my much respected aunt Ann Adams. She laboured under much privation on earth yet with all was highly gifted. She has now got over all her troubles here and I have no doubt is now rejoicing in the company of the redeemed in the mansions of everlasting glory.
In the name of God, Amen. I, Ann Adams, of Chequer Hall otherwise Ballyweaney in the County of Antrim, spinster being of sound and disposing— mind and memory and understanding, do make and publish this my last will and testament in manner and from following hereby revoking all former will or wills by me at any time heretofore made. In the first place I direct my executors hereinafter named to pay all my just debts and funeral and testamentary charges as soon as may be convenient after my decease. I leave, devise and bequeath to my nephew John Bones of Augusta, State of Georgia, America, and failing him to his wife Mary Bones otherwise Brown and to their heirs and assigns all my right and title and interest in the lands and house known by the name of Chequer Hall which I hold by lease under William Legg, Esqr.. Also that portion of land and house known by the name of Ballycraigah which I hold under James E. Leslie, Esqr., for the natural son of John William McCluney now living in the United States of America I leave and bequeath to my niece Ann Moore of Lavan Cottage my clock and dessert spoons, I leave and bequeath to my niece Mary Bones one dozen silver spoons with my name on them. I leave and bequeath to the Rev. Hugh Carson of Ballyweaney my jaunting car. I leave and bequeath to the person who may be clergyman of the congregation of Ballyweaney at the time of my death ten pounds, also to Mary Graham of Clontyfinan five pounds, I bequeath to my nephew James Brown Hamilton of Ballymoney my desk that stands in the bedroom of the back parlor, I give devise and bequeath to my nieces Elizabeth Brown and Martha Dougherty of Gavagh, Mary Hamilton and Elizabeth Loughridge of Ballymoney and Ann Moore of Lavan Cottage all the residue and remainder of my property to be distributed among them, share and share alike, after pay my funeral expense, legacies and legacy duties of the before mentioned legacies of my executors to have it in their power if they see necessary to auction all and to divide the proceeds amongst my before named nieces
Elizabeth Brown, Martha Dougherty, Mary Hamilton, Elizabeth Loughridge and Ann Moore. I nominate and appoint the Rev. Jackson Graham of Clontyfinan and McCurdy Hamilton of Ballymoney executors of this my last will and testament.
In testimony whereof I have hereunto made my mark this 8th day of Dec. (1860) in the year of our Lord.
Ann X Adams
Signed, published and declared by the above name testatrix Ann Adams as —- for her last will and testament and by her witnessed at her request (the will having been duly read before she made her mark) in her presence and in the presence of each other all present at the time who have subscribed our names as witnesses hereto, the erasure on the 12th line was made previous to the will being signed, also the interlining of the townland etc., on the first page and the erasure on the last lines of the same page.
Witnesses present: William Hamilton
T. B. Hamilton, Attorney
Belfast Bank, Ballymoney
Having made my will and settled my affairs on a former occasion, I now make and publish the following as a codicil to my will and order the following arrangements to be carries out by my executors named in it, vis.: That Mrs. Dr. Moore get my drawers and Mrs. Dougherty get the drawers that belonged to my late sister Martha. Mrs. Hamilton to get my best plated candlesticks, Mrs. Loughridge to get my china and the old silver teaspoons, Margaret McFadden to get ten pounds to be paid in trust to Mrs. Doctor Moore whose receipt will be sufficient. Mary McCurdy Hamilton to get five pounds and the two old table spoons, Mrs. Hamilton to get my two new table spoons and to Elizabeth Brown I bequeath 5 pounds. This foregoing codicil was read and signed in the presence of each other and marked by Miss Ann Adams after having been read.
Witness: Her Mark
Ann X Adams
H.. McC. Hamilton
Hugh H. Carson
Mary McC. Hamilton
Chequer Hall, Feb. 22, 1861
I Ann Adams, having before settled my affairs and made my will, I add this codicil, I bequeath to Mrs. Hugh McC. Hamilton my Northumberland table and leaves of the same, to Mrs. William Daugherty the sum of five pounds, to Mrs. William Moore my sugar tongs, to Miss Rose Ann Megaw my brooch, to Mrs Irwin, my gold ring, to Mary McCurdy Hamilton my butter knives and salt spoons.
Ann X Adams
Mary McCurdy Hamilton
Annie A. Moore
Feb. 24th, 1861
Having made my will and settled my affairs on the 8th day of December eighteen hundred and sixty (1860) and in said will and testament bequeath the sum of ten pounds sterling to the person who would be clergyman of Ballyweaney congregation at the time of my death, I do hereby revoke and disallow said bequest and do desire the sum of ten pounds to be paid to my nephew Thomas Bones Hamilton on Ballymoney. The foregoing codicil was read and signed in the presence of each other and marked by Miss Adams after having it read.
Ann X Adams
Signed and published in Chequer Hall this 27th Day of February 1864.
Hugh McC. Hamilton.
Sarah Kerr ¨ her witnesses.
Ann Hannah ¨