Monday, September 9, 2013

Amanuensis Monday ~ The Will of William Munroe, 14 Nov. 1716

Among the family papers my cousin found earlier this year was a typed transcription of our 7th great grandfather’s last Will and Testament.  William Munroe (1625 – 1718) was born in Scotland.  As a young man he fought on the side of the crown at the Battle of Worcester, during the English Civil War.  Many Scots warriors at this battle were captured by the Puritan forces of Cromwell, and sold into servitude in the New World. 

William not only survived his forced march to London, but also survived the voyage to Boston.  He was sold as an indentured servant and eventually gained his freedom and settled in Lexington, Massachusetts.  He outlived three wives and had fourteen children!   In his will he names all of the children who had lived until 1716 (only missing Susanna), the year he wrote the document.  He died on 27 January 1718, a very aged man for his time.

I did not transcribe this will.  It was transcribed and typed up by my 2nd great grand aunt Olivia Adeline Munroe (1836 – 1905).  I recognized her typewriter, and her carbon paper ink color used on this transcription as the same type as some of the other documents she had signed.   On most of the documents she had put her married initials A. M. G, for Addie Munroe Grout. 

There are three witnesses who signed this document.  One is John Hancock.  This is not the famous John Hancock who signed the Declaration of Independence, but is his grandfather John Hancock (1671- 1752), a resident of Lexington and the local minister.   Another witness, Benjamin Muzzy 3rd is a 1st cousin to me, 8 generations removed and closely related to the MOOERS family of Rowley.  Three of the MOOERS sisters married three of William Munroe’s sons!

I love the line in this will that is a warning to his children.  He demands that there will be no quibbling about this last will and testament with the words "... if any of my children are contentious about their portions; they shall forfeit the same unto their brethren".  Great idea, Great Grandpa!  If I had several children I would be tempted to put those same words into my own will.


In the name of God Amen.  I William Munroe of Lexington
in the County of Middlesex in the Province of the Massachu-
setts Bay in New England being at present writing herof
of a sound disposing mind thro’ divine goodness, but sensible
of my mortality, do therefore make this my last Will, & Test-
ment in manner & form as followeth.
                And first I do Command my precious and Immortall Soull
Into the hands of Christ Jesus my Lord, hopeing in his merits
alone for the Salvation of it; and my body I commit to the
dust by a decent burial at the discretion of my executors
in hopes of a Joyfull Resurrection to life eternal.  And as
for that temporal estate which it hath pleased Allmighty God
to bestow upon me & which is yet in my hands undisposed of,
my will and pleasure is to dispose thereof as followeth.
                Impr: I do give and bequeath unto my beloved sons
John Munroe, William Monroe, George Munroe, Daniel Munroe, David
 Munroe, Joseph Monroe, & Benjamin Monroe to each & everyone of
them ten Shillings a piece, besides what I have already
bestowed upon them.
                Item.  My Will and pleasure is; that my beloved daughter
Eleanor Burgess shall have the Sole use of my mansion house,
& a priveledge in the barn dureing the whole term of her
 widowhood, and that upon her decease or marriage my son
George Monroe shall have all my buildings; he paying unto the
said Eleanour Burgess the sum of three pounds.  And I do also
(page two)
give & bequeath unto the sd: Eleanour Burgess the one half
of my moveable household stuff.
                I do also give & bequeath unto my beloved daughters,
Martha Comee, Hanah Peirce, Elizabeth Rugg, Mary Phassett,
Eleanour Burgess, & Sarah Blanchard to each and every one of
them ten pounds apiece.
                And after all my Just debts, & funeral charges be de-
frayed, my Will & pleasure is, that all the rest and residue
of my estate both reall & personal be equally divided among
all my children.  & that my son George Monroe shall have the
first tender of all my Lands at the price of four pounds
pr. Acre;  And if any of my children are contentious about
their portions; they shall forfeit the same unto their
brethren, that shall abide by my will.
                I do also make & ordain my well beloved sons John Monroe,
& George Monroe to be executors of this my Last Will & Testa-
ment. And that this is my Last Will & Testament.  And that I
do hereby revoke and Disanul all other & former Wills and Testa-
ments by me at any time made; I do putt my hand & seal hereto.
November the fourteenth Anno Domi; one thousand Seven hundred
& sixteen – In the third year of his Maje: Reign –
                                                William Monroe   (seal)
                                                His mark               X
Signed, sealed & declared to be my Last Will in presence of
 Elezar Kendall    Benjamin Muzzy Tertius                John Hancock
A true copy
                Attest , J. Hozler Register

William Munroe Family Sketch:

William Munroe, son of Robert of Aldie, born 1625 near Inverness, Scotland, died 27 January 1718 in Lexington, Massachusetts; married first to Martha George in 1665, daughter of John George and Elizabeth Unknown, born about 1636 in Charlestown, Massachusetts and died about 1672 in Lexington; married second to Mary Ball about 1672, daughter of John Ball and Elizabeth Pierce, born about 1651 and died August 1692 in Lexington; married third to Elizabeth Johnson, widow of Edward Wyer, and daughter of William Johnson and Elizabeth Story, born about 17 March 1640 in Charlestown and died 14 December 1715 in Lexington.

Children with Martha George, born in Lexington:
1.     John , born 10 March 1666, married Hannah Mooers and Rachel Unknown
2.  Martha, born 2 November 1667, married John Comee
3.  William, born 10 October 1669, married Mary Cutler and Joanna Russell
4.   George, born about 1672, married Sarah Mooers (my 6th great grandparents)

Children with Mary Ball, born in Lexington:
5.   Daniel, born 12 August 1673, married Dority Mooers (yes, three brothers married three sisters!)
6.   Hannah, born 1674, married Joseph Pierce
7.    Elizabeth, born about 1676, married Thomas Rugg
8.    David, born 6 October 1680, married Deborah Howe
9.    Eleanor, born 24 February 1683, married William Burgess
10.   Sarah, born 18 March 1684, married George Blanchard
11.   Joseph, born 16 August 1687, married Elizabeth Unknown
12.   Benjamin, born 16 August 1690, married Lydia Stone
13.   Susanna, born about 1691, died young?
14.   Mary, born 28 June 1678, married Joseph Fassett


Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. If she transcribed and typed it up, does that mean that someone in the family has the original paper? This is a lovely document for so many reasons.

    1. Someone might have had the original, or perhaps she went to the court house. Who knows?