Monday, March 28, 2016

Albert Munroe Wilkinson's Last Will and Testament, 1908

I, Albert M. Wilkinson of Salem, in the County
of Essex and Commonwealth of Massachusetts declare this
to be my last will, hereby revoking all wills heretofore
made by me.
                After the payment of my just debts and funeral
charges, I bequeath and devise all my estate, both
real and personal and wherever situated to my wife
Isabella L. Wilkinson, and I nominate her to be the
executrix of this will, and I request that she may be
exempt from giving a surety or sureties on her bond
as such executrix.  I desire to leave all my estate
to any wife and no part to my two children.
                In testimony whereof I hereunto set my hand
and in the presence of three witnesses declare this to
be my last will, this fourth day of May A. D. 1908
                                                Albert M. Wilkinson
On this fourth day of May 1908, Albert M.
Wilkinson of Salem, Massachusetts signed the fore-
going instrument in our presence declaring it to be
his last will, and as witness thereof we three do now
at his request in his presence, and in the presence of
each other hereto subscribe our names.
James C. Batchelder                       Jennie B. Bill
                           Annie M. Bill

Source for this image:  Essex County, Massachusetts, Probate Records and Indexes 1638-1916; Author: Massachusetts. Probate Court (Essex County); Probate Place: Essex, Massachusetts,  at Massachusetts, Wills and Probate Records, 1635-1991 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA  accessed on 20 March 2016. 

Source for this image:  Original data: Massachusetts Vital Records, 1840–1911. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts, via Massachusetts, Death Records, 1841-1915 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013, accessed online 20 March 2016.


Apparently, my great grandfather, Albert Munroe Wilkinson, made his last will about a week before gall bladder surgery in 1908.  Thinking back to those days before antibiotics and reliable anesthesia, this might have been a common practice.  I can't imagine facing surgery even today, but it might have been a hair raising event in 1908.

It doesn't mention if Albert was ill in this document.  Sometimes there is line that reads something like "... being of sound mind but ill of body...".  His gall bladder surgery must have been preceded by some illness or infection, and since he made his will it would be a great coincidence if he had to have an emergency surgery.  This is also evident from the fact that he traveled all the way to Brookline, a suburb of Boston, for his surgery at the Corey Hill Hospital, instead of having his surgery in Salem, Massachusetts.

My grandfather, Donald Munroe Wilkinson (1895 - 1977) , was left orphaned when his father Albert died.  Donald was only 12 years old, and his sister, Janet (1898 - 1981), was 9 years old.  His mother, Isabella Lyons (Bill) (1863 - 1935) remained a widow and ran a boarding house in Salem on Loring Avenue.  She lived, during her widowed years, with her sisters, Jennie and Mary Ann, who also signed this will.  The Bill sisters ran a day school in Danvers called "The Speedwell School" named after the sister ship to the Mayflower.

Corey Hill Hospital, Brookline, Massachusetts 1918 postcard
Where Albert Munroe Wilkinson had his gallbladder surgery in 1908


Published under a Creative Commons License

Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Albert Munroe Wilkinson's Last Will and Testament, 1908",  Nutfield Genealogy, posted March 28, 2016, (  accessed [access date] ). 


  1. He must have been quite sick to have agreed to surgery. He must have been quite scared, too, to have written his will beforehand.

    1. That's exactly how I feel about this situation, too, Nancy!